§ 48. General Literature on the Papacy.


*Bullarium Magnum Romanum a Leone M. usque ad Benedictum XIV. Luxemb., 1727–1758. 19 vols., fol. Another ed., of superior typography, under the title: Bullarum ... Romanorum Pontificum amplissima Collectio, opera et studio C. Cocquelines, Rom., 1738–1758, 14 Tomi in 28 Partes fol.; new ed., 1847–’72, 24 vols. Bullarii Romani continuatio, ed. A. A. Barberi, from Clement XIII. to Gregory XVI., Rom., 1835–1857, 18 vols.

*Monumenta Germaniae Historica inde ab anno Christi quingentesimo usque ad annum millesimum et quingentesimum; ed. by G. H. Pertz (royal librarian at Berlin, d. 1876), continued by G. Waitz. Hannoverae, 1826–1879, 24 vols. fol. A storehouse for the authentic history of the German empire.

*Anastasius (librarian and abbot in Rome about 870): Liber Pontificalis (or, De Vitis Roman. Pontificum). The oldest collection of biographies of popes down to Stephen VI., a.d. 885, but not all by Anastasius. This book, together with later collections, is inserted in the third volume of Muratori, Rerum Ital. Scriptores (Mediol., 1723–’51, in 25 vols. fol.); also in Migne, Patrol. L. Tom. cxxvii. (1853).

Archibald Bower (b. 1686 at Dundee, Scotland, d. 1766): The History of the Popes, from the foundation of the See of Rome to the present time. 3rd ed. Lond., 1750–’66. 7 vols., 4to. German transl. by Rambach, 1770. Bower changed twice from Protestantism to Romanism, and back again, and wrote in bitter hostility, to the papacy, but gives very ample material. Bp. Douglas of Salesbury wrote against him.

Chr. F. Walch: Entwurf einer vollständigen Historie der römischen Päpste. Göttingen, 2d ed., 1758.

G. J. Planck: Geschichte des Papstthums. Hanover, 1805. 3 vols.

L. T. Spittler: Geschichte des Papstthums; with Notes by J. Gurlitt, Hamb., 1802, new ed. by H. E. G. Paulus. Heidelberg, 1826.

J. E. Riddle: The History of the Papacy to the Period of the Reformation. London, 1856. 2 vols.

F. A. Gfrörer: Geschichte der Karolinger. (Freiburg, 1848. 2 vols.); Allgemeine Kirchengeschichte (Stuttgart, 1841–’46, 4 vols.); Gregor VII. und sein Zeitalter (Schaffhausen, 1859–64, 8 vols.). Gfrörer began as a rationalist, but joined the Roman church, 1853, and died in 1861.

*Phil. Jaffé: Regesta Pontificum Roman. ad annum 1198. Berol., 1851; revised ed. by Wattenbach, etc. Lips. 1881 sqq. Continued by Potthast from 1198–1304, and supplemented by Harttung (see below). Important for the chronology and acts of the popes.

J. A. Wylie: The Papacy. Lond., 1852.

*Leopold Ranke: Die römischen Päpste, ihre Kirche und ihr Staat im 16 und 17ten Jahrhundert. 4 ed., Berlin, 1857. 3 vols. Two English translations, one by Sarah Austin (Lond., 1840), one by E. Foster (Lond., 1847). Comp. the famous review of Macaulay in the Edinb. Review.

Döllinger. (R.C.): Die Papstfabeln des Mittelalters. Munchen, 1863. English translation by A. Plummer, and ed. with notes by H. B. Smith. New York, 1872.

*W. Giesebrecht: Geschichte der Deutschen Kaiserzeit. Braunschweig, 1855. 3rd ed., 1863 sqq., 5 vols. A political history of the German empire, but with constant reference to the papacy in its close contact with it.

*Thomas Greenwood: Cathedra Petri. A Political History of the great Latin Patriarchate. London, 1856–’72, 6 vols.

C. de Cherrier: Histoire de la lutte des papes el des empereurs de la maison de swabe, de ces causes et des ses effets. Paris, 1858. 3 vols.

*Rud. Baxmann: Die Politik der Päpste von Gregor I. bis Gregor VII. Elberfeld, 1868, ’69. 2 vols.

*F. Gregorovius: Geschichte der Stadt Rom im Mittelalter, vom 5. bis zum 16. Jahrh. 8 vols. Stuttgart, 1859–1873  .2 ed., 1869 ff.

A. v. Reumont: Geschichte der Stadt Rom. Berlin, 1867–’70, 3 vols.

C. Höfler (R.C.): Die Avignonischen Päpste, ihre Machtfulle und ihr Untergang. Wien, 1871.

R. Zöpffel: Die Papstwahlen und die mit ihnen im nächsten Zusammenhange stehenden Ceremonien in ihrer Entwicklung vom 11 bis 14. Jahrhundert. Göttingen, 1872.

*James Bryce (Prof. of Civil Law in Oxford): The Holy Roman Empire, London, 3rd ed., 1871, 8th ed. enlarged, 1880.

W. Wattenbach: Geschicte des römischen Papstthums. Berlin, 1876.

*Jul. von Pflugk-Harttung: Acta Pontificum Romanorum inedita. Bd. I. Urkunden der Päpste a.d. 748–1198. Gotha, 1880.

O. J. Reichel: The See of Rome in the Middle Ages. Lond. 1870.

Mandell Creighton: History of the Papacy during the Reformation. London 1882. 2 vols.

J. N. Murphy (R.C.): The Chair of Peter, or the Papacy and its Benefits. London 1883.


 § 49. Chronological Table of the Popes, Anti-Popes, and Roman Emperors from Gregory I. to Leo XIII.


We present here, for convenient reference, a complete list of the Popes, Anti-Popes, and Roman Emperors, from Pope Gregory I. to Leo XIII., and from Charlemagne to Francis II., the last of the German-Roman emperors:210












(Greek Emperors)



St. Gregory I





(the Great)










Boniface III





Boniface IV










Boniface V





Honorius I










John IV


Constantine III





Constans II



Theodorus I




649–653 [655]

St. Martin I


Constantine IV



Eugenius I















Donus or Domnus I










Leo II





Benedict II





John V


Justinian II















Tiberius III



Sergius I


Justinus II restored



John VI


Philippicus Bardanes



John VII


Anastasius II





Theodosius III



Constantine I


Leo III. (the Isaurian)



Gregory II





Gregory III


(Charles Martel, d. 741, defeated the Saracens at Tours 732.)





(Pepin the Short,



Stephen II





Stephen III (II)





Paul I





Constantine II


Roman Emperors.








Stephen IV





Adrian I


* Charlemagne





Crowned emperor at Rome



Stephen V





Paschal I


* Louis the Pious (le Débonnaire)



Eugenius II


Crowned em. at Rheims








Gregory IV


* Lothaire I (crowned 823)




John (diaconus)




Sergius II


(Louis the German, King of Germany, 840–876)



Leo IV





The mythical papess Joan or John VIII





Benedict III







* Louis II (in Italy)



Nicolas I





Adrian II







* Charles the Bald



Marinus I


* Charles the Fat



Adrian III





Stephen VI


* Arnulf





 Crowned emperor



Boniface VI














Theodorus II





John IX


(Louis the Child)



Benedict IV





Leo V


Louis III of Provence (in Italy)



Christophorus (deposed)





Sergius III





Anstasius III


Conrad I (of Franconia) King of Germany.








John X


Berengar (in Italy).



Leo VI


Henry I. (the Fowler) King of Germany. The House of Saxony.



Stephen VIII





John XI










Stephen IX


* Otto I (the Great)



Marinus II


Crowned emperor



Agapetus II





John XII (deposed)










Benedict V (deposed)










Benedict VI


* Otto II



Benedict VII

(Boniface VII?)




John XIV (murdered)


* Otto III



Boniface VII


Crowned emperor



John XV





Gregory V






Calabritanus John XVI

*Henry II (the Saint, the last of the Saxon emperors).



Silvester II


Crowned emperor













Sergius IV





Benedict VIII







* Conrad II, The House of Franconia.



John XIX


Crowned emperor



Benedict IX (deposed)






Silvester III

* Henry III



Gregory VI


Crowned emperor



Clement II





Damasus II





Leo IX





Victor II


* Henry IV



Stephen X


Crowned by the Antipope Clement



Benedict X (deposed)





Nicolas II





Alexander II






Cadalous (Honorius II)

(Rudolf of Swabia rival)



Gregory VII (Hildebrand)






Wibertus (Clement III)

(Hermann of Luxemburg rival)



Victor III





Urban II





Paschal II












* Henry V




Maginulfus (Silvester IV)




Gelasius II






Burdinus (Gregory VIII)

* Lothaire II (the Saxon



Calixtus II






Theobaldus Buccapecus (Celestine)

* Conrad III, The House of Hohenstaufen. (The Swabian emperors.)



Honorius II.


Crowned Em. at Aix



Innocent II






Anacletus II





Gregory (Victor IV)




Celestine II





Lucius II





Eugenius III


*Frederick I (Barbarossa)



Anastasius IV


Crowned emperor



Adrian IV





Alexander III






Octavianus (Victor IV)





Guido Cremensis (Paschal III)










Johannes de Struma (Calixtus III)










Landus Titinus (Innocent III)




Lucius III





Urban III





Gregory VIII





Clement III







*Henry VI



Celestine III





Innocent III


Philip of Swabia and Otto IV  (rivals)










*Otto IV



Honorius III


*Frederick II.



Gregory IX


Crowned emperor



Celestine IV







(Henry Raspe rival)



Innocent IV


(William of Holland rival)





Conrad IV



Alexander IV












Richard (Earl of Cornwall)



Urban IV


Alfonso (King of Castile) (rivals)



Clement IV





Gregory X





Innocent V


Rudolf I (of Hapsburg)



Adrian V


House of Austria



John XXI





Nicolas III





Martin IV





Honorius IV





Nicolas IV







Adolf (of Nassau)



St. Celestine V (abdicated)





Boniface VIII







Albert I (of Hapsburg)



Benedict XI





Clement V211







*Henry VII (of Luxemburg)










*Lewis IV (of Bavaria)



Benedict XII


(Frederick the Fair of Austria, rival 1314–1330)



Clement VI










Innocent VI





Urban V


*Charles IV (of Luxemburg)



Gregory XI


(Gunther of Schwarzburg, rival)



Urban VI






Clement VII




Boniface IX


Wenzel (of Luxemburg)




Benedict XIII





(deposed 1409)




Innocent VII


Rupert (of the Palatinate)



Gregory XII (deposed)





Alexander V





John XXIII (deposed)


Sigismund (of Luxemburg)










(Jobst of Moravia rival)



Martin V

Clement VIII




Eugene IV






Felix V

Albert II (of Hapsburg)





*Frederick III.212



Calixtus IV


Crowned emperor



Pius II





Paul II





Sixtus IV





Innocent VIII


Maximilian I



Alexander VI.





Pius III.





Julius II.


* Charles V



Leo X.


Crowned emperor at Bologna not in Rome








Hadrian VI





Clement VII





Paul III





Julius III





Marcellus II


Ferdinand I



Paul IV





Pius IV





Pius V





Gregory XIII


Maximilian II



Sixtus V





Urban VII





Gregory XIV





Innocent IX





Clement VIII


Rudolf II



Leo XI





Paul V





Gregory XV


Ferdinand II



Urban VIII





Innocent X


Ferdinand III



Alexander VIII





Clement IX


Leopold I



Clement X





Innocent XI





Alex’der VIII





Innocent XII





Clement XI







Joseph I



Innocent XIII


Charles VI.



Benedict XIII


Charles VII (of Ba



Clement XII





Benedict XIV


Francis I (of Lorraine)








Clement XIII


Joseph II



Clement XIV





Pius VI







Leopold II





Francis II



Pius VII


Abdication of Francis II










(Francis I, E




 § 50. Gregory the Great. a.d. 590–604.




I. Gregorii M. Opera.: The best is the Benedictine ed. of Dom de Ste Marthe (Dionysius Samarthanus e congregatione St, Mauri), Par., 1705, 4 vols. fol. Reprinted in Venice, 1768–76, in 17 vols. 4to.; and, with additions, in Migne’s Patrologia, 1849, in 5 vols. (Tom. 75–79).

Especially valuable are Gregory’s Epistles, nearly 850 (in third vol. of Migne’s ed.). A new ed. is being prepared by Paul Ewald.

II. Biographies of Gregory I

(1) Older biographies: in the "Liber Pontificalis;" by Paulus Diaconus († 797), in Opera I. 42 (ed. Migne); by Johannes Diaconus (9th cent.), ibid., p. 59, and one selected from his writings, ibid., p. 242.

Detailed notices of Gregory in the writings of Gregory of Tours, Bede, Isidorus Hispal., Paul Warnefried (730).

(2) Modern biographies:

G. Lau: Gregor I. nach seinem Leben und nach seiner Lehre. Leipz., 1845.

Böhringer: Die Kirche Christi und ihre Zeugen. Bd. I., Abth. IV. Zurich, 1846.

G. Pfahler: Gregor der Gr. und seine Zeit. Frkf a. M., 1852.

James Barmby: Gregory the Great. London, 1879. Also his art. "Gregorius I." in Smith & Wace, "Dict. of Christ. Biogr.," II. 779 (1880).

Comp. Jaffé, Neander, Milman (Book III., ch. 7, vol. II., 39 sqq.); Greenwood (Book III., chs. 6 and 7); Montalembert (Les moines d’Occident, bk. V., Engl. transl., vol. II., 69 sqq.); Baxmann (Politik der Päpste, I. 44 sqq.); Zöpffel (art. Gregor I. in the, new ed. of Herzog).


Whatever may be thought of the popes of earlier times," says Ranke,213 "they always had great interests in view: the care of oppressed religion, the conflict with heathenism, the spread of Christianity among the northern nations, the founding of an independent hierarchy. It belongs to the dignity of human existence to aim at and to execute something great; this tendency the popes kept in upward motion."

This commendation of the earlier popes, though by no means applicable to all, is eminently true of the one who stands at the beginning of our period.

Gregory the First, or the Great, the last of the Latin fathers and the first of the popes, connects the ancient with the mediaeval church, the Graeco-Roman with the Romano-Germanic type of Christianity. He is one of the best representatives of mediaeval Catholicism: monastic, ascetic, devout and superstitious; hierarchical, haughty, and ambitious, yet humble before God; indifferent, if not hostile, to classical and secular culture, but friendly to sacred and ecclesiastical learning; just, humane, and liberal to ostentation; full of missionary zeal in the interest of Christianity, and the Roman see, which to his mind were inseparably connected. He combined great executive ability with untiring industry, and amid all his official cares he never forgot the claims of personal piety. In genius he was surpassed by Leo I., Gregory VII., Innocent III.; but as a man and as a Christian, he ranks with the purest and most useful of the popes. Goodness is the highest kind of greatness, and the church has done right in according the title of the Great to him rather than to other popes of superior intellectual power.

The times of his pontificate (a.d. Sept. 3, 590 to March 12, 604) were full of trouble, and required just a man of his training and character. Italy, from a Gothic kingdom, had become a province of the Byzantine empire, but was exhausted by war and overrun by the savage Lombards, who were still heathen or Arian heretics, and burned churches, slew ecclesiastics, robbed monasteries, violated nuns, reduced cultivated fields into a wilderness. Rome was constantly exposed to plunder, and wasted by pestilence and famine. All Europe was in a chaotic state, and bordering on anarchy. Serious men, and Gregory himself, thought that the end of the world was near at hand. "What is it," says he in one of his sermons, "that can at this time delight us in this world?  Everywhere we see tribulation, everywhere we hear lamentation. The cities are destroyed, the castles torn down, the fields laid waste the land made desolate. Villages are empty, few inhabitants remain in the cities, and even these poor remnants of humanity are daily cut down. The scourge of celestial justice does not cease, because no repentance takes place under the scourge. We see how some are carried into captivity, others mutilated, others slain. What is it, brethren, that can make us contented with this life?  If we love such a world, we love not our joys, but our wounds. We see what has become of her who was once the mistress of the world .... Let us then heartily despise the present world and imitate the works of the pious as well as we can."

Gregory was born about a.d. 540, from an old and wealthy senatorial (the Anician) family of Rome, and educated for the service of the government. He became acquainted with Latin literature, and studied Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustin, but was ignorant of Greek. His mother Sylvia, after the death of Gordianus her husband, entered a convent and so excelled in sanctity that she was canonized. The Greek emperor Justin appointed him to the highest civil office in Rome, that of imperial prefect (574). But soon afterwards he broke with the world, changed the palace of his father near Rome into a convent in honor of St. Andrew, and became himself a monk in it, afterwards abbot. He founded besides six convents in Sicily, and bestowed his remaining wealth on the poor. He lived in the strictest abstinence, and undermined his health by ascetic excesses. Nevertheless he looked back upon this time as the happiest of his life.

Pope Pelagius II. made him one of the seven deacons of the Roman Church, and sent him as ambassador or nuntius to the court of Constantinople (579).214  His political training and executive ability fitted him eminently for this post. He returned in 585, and was appointed abbot of his convent, but employed also for important public business.

It was during his monastic period (either before or, more probably, after his return from Constantinople) that his missionary zeal was kindled, by an incident on the slave market, in behalf of the Anglo-Saxons. The result (as recorded in a previous chapter) was the conversion of England and the extension of the jurisdiction of the Roman see, during his pontificate. This is the greatest event of that age, and the brightest jewel in his crown. Like a Christian Caesar, he re-conquered that fair island by an army of thirty monks, marching under the sign of the cross.215

In 590 Gregory was elected pope by the unanimous voice of the clergy, the senate, and the people, notwithstanding his strong remonstrance, and confirmed by his temporal sovereign, the Byzantine emperor Mauricius. Monasticism, for the first time, ascended the papal throne. Hereafter till his death he devoted all his energies to the interests of the holy see and the eternal city, in the firm consciousness of being the successor of St. Peter and the vicar of Christ. He continued the austere simplicity of monastic life, surrounded himself with monks, made them bishops and legates, confirmed the rule of St. Benedict at a council of Rome, guaranteed the liberty and property of convents, and by his example and influence rendered signal services to the monastic order. He was unbounded in his charities to the poor. Three thousand virgins, impoverished nobles and matrons received without a blush alms from his hands. He sent food from his table to the hungry before he sat down for his frugal meal. He interposed continually in favor of injured widows and orphans. He redeemed slaves and captives, and sanctioned the sale of consecrated vessels for objects of charity.

Gregory began his administration with a public act of humiliation on account of the plague which had cost the life of his predecessor. Seven processions traversed the streets for three days with prayers and hymns; but the plague continued to ravage, and demanded eighty victims during the procession. The later legend made it the means of staying the calamity, in consequence of the appearance of the archangel Michael putting back the drawn sword into its sheath over the Mausoleum of Hadrian, since called the Castle of St. Angelo, and adorned by the statue of an angel.

His activity as pontiff was incessant, and is the more astonishing as he was in delicate health and often confined to bed. "For a long time," he wrote to a friend in 601, "I have been unable to rise from my bed. I am tormented by the pains of gout; a kind of fire seems to pervade my whole body: to live is pain; and I look forward to death as the only remedy."  In another letter he says: "I am daily dying, but never die."

Nothing seemed too great, nothing too little for his personal care. He organized and completed the ritual of the church, gave it greater magnificence, improved the canon of the mass and the music by a new mode of chanting called after him. He preached often and effectively, deriving lessons of humility and piety, from the calamities of the times, which appeared to him harbingers of the judgment-day. He protected the city of Rome against the savage and heretical Lombards. He administered the papal patrimony, which embraced large estates in the neighborhood of Rome, in Calabria, Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, Dalmatia, and even in Gaul and Africa. He encouraged and advised missionaries. As patriarch of the West, he extended his paternal care over the churches in Italy, Gaul, Spain, and Britain, and sent the pallium to some metropolitans, yet without claiming any legal jurisdiction. He appointed, he also reproved and deposed bishops for neglect of duty, or crime. He resolutely opposed the prevalent practice of simony, and forbade the clergy to exact or accept fees for their services. He corresponded, in the interest of the church, with nobles, kings and queens in the West, with emperors and patriarchs in the East. He hailed the return of the Gothic kingdom of Spain under Reccared from the Arian heresy to the Catholic faith, which was publicly proclaimed by the Council of Toledo, May 8, 589. He wrote to the king a letter of congratulation, and exhorted him to humility, chastity, and mercy. The detested Lombards likewise cast off Arianism towards the close of his life, in consequence partly of his influence over Queen Theodelinda, a Bavarian princess, who had been reared in the trinitarian faith. He endeavored to suppress the remnants of the Donatist schism in Africa. Uncompromising against Christian heretics and schismatics be was a step in advance of his age in liberality towards the Jews. He censured the bishop of Terracina and the bishop of Cagliari for unjustly depriving them of their synagogues; he condemned the forcible baptism of Jews in Gaul, and declared conviction by preaching the only legitimate means of conversion; he did not scruple, however, to try the dishonest method of bribery, and he inconsistently denied the Jews the right of building new synagogues and possessing Christian slaves. He made efforts, though in vain, to check the slave-trade, which was chiefly in the hands of Jews.

After his death, the public distress, which he had labored to alleviate, culminated in a general famine, and the ungrateful populace of Rome was on the point of destroying his library, when the archdeacon Peter stayed their fury by asserting that he had seen the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove hovering above Gregory’s head as he wrote his books. Hence he is represented with a dove. He was buried in St. Peter’s under the altar of St. Andrew.


Note. Estimates of Gregory I.


Bishop Bossuet (as quoted by Montalembert, II. 173) thus tersely sums up the public life of Gregory: "This great pope ... subdued the Lombards; saved Rome and Italy, though the emperors could give him no assistance; repressed the new-born pride of the patriarchs of Constantinople; enlightened the whole church by his doctrine; governed the East and the West with as much vigor as humility; and gave to the world a perfect model of ecclesiastical government."

To this Count Montalembert (likewise a Roman Catholic) adds: "It was the Benedictine order which gave to the church him whom no one would have hesitated to call the greatest of the popes, had not the same order, five centuries later, produced St. Gregory VII .... He is truly Gregory the Great, because he issued irreproachable from numberless and boundless difficulties; because he gave as a foundation to the increasing grandeur of the Holy See, the renown of his virtue, the candor of his innocence, the humble and inexhaustible tenderness of his heart."

"The pontificate of Gregory the Great," says Gibbon (ch. 45), "which lasted thirteen years, six months, and ten days, is one of the most edifying periods of the history of the church. His virtues, and even his faults, a singular mixture of simplicity and cunning, of pride and humility, of sense and superstition, were happily suited to his station and to the temper of the times."

Lau says (in his excellent monograph, pp. 302, 306): "The spiritual qualities of Gregory’s character are strikingly apparent in his actions. With a clear, practical understanding, he combined a kind and mild heart; but he was never weak. Fearful to the obstinate transgressor of the laws, on account of his inflexible justice, he was lenient to the repentant and a warm friend to his friends, though, holding, as he did, righteousness and the weal of the church higher than friendship, he was severe upon any neglect of theirs. With a great prudence in managing the most different circumstances, and a great sagacity in treating the most different characters, he combined a moral firmness which never yielded an inch of what he had recognized as right; but he never became stubborn. The rights of the church and the privileges of the apostolical see he fought for with the greatest pertinacity; but for himself personally, he wanted no honors. As much as he thought of the church and the Roman chair, so modestly he esteemed himself. More than once his acts gave witness to the humility of his heart: humility was, indeed, to him the most important and the most sublime virtue. His activity was prodigious, encompassing great objects and small ones with equal zeal. Nothing ever became too great for his energy or too small for his attention. He was a warm patriot, and cared incessantly for the material as well as for the spiritual welfare of his countrymen. More than once he saved Rome from the Lombards, and relieved her from famine .... He was a great character with grand plans, in the realization of which he showed as much insight as firmness, as much prudent calculation of circumstances as sagacious judgment of men. The influence he has exercised is immense, and when this influence is not in every respect for the good, his time is to blame, not he. His goal was always that which he acknowledged as the best. Among all the popes of the sixth and following centuries, he shines as a star of the very first magnitude."

Rud. Baxmann (l.c., I. 45 sq.): "Amidst the general commotion which the invasion of the Lombards caused in Italy, one man stood fast on his post in the eternal city, no matter how high the surges swept over it. As Luther, in his last will, calls himself an advocate of God, whose name was well known in heaven and on earth and in hell, the epitaph says of Gregory I. that he ruled as the consul Dei. He was the chief bishop of the republic of the church, the fourth doctor ecclesiae, beside the three other powerful theologians and columns of the Latin church: Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome. He is justly called the pater ceremoniarum, the pater monachorum, and the Great. What the preceding centuries had produced in the Latin church for church government and dogmatics, for pastoral care and liturgy, he gathered together, and for the coming centuries he laid down the norms which were seldom deviated from."

To this we add the judgment of James Barmby, the latest biographer of Gregory (Greg., p. 191): "Of the loftiness of his aims, the earnestness of his purpose, the fervor of his devotion, his unwearied activity, and his personal purity, there can be no doubt. These qualities are conspicuous through his whole career. If his religion was of the strongly ascetic type, and disfigured by superstitious credulity, it bore in these respects the complexion of his age, inseparable then from aspiration after the highest holiness. Nor did either superstition or asceticism supersede in him the principles of a true inward religion-justice, mercy, and truth. We find him, when occasion required, exalting mercy above sacrifice; he was singularly kindly and benevolent, as well as just, and even his zeal for the full rigor of monastic discipline was tempered with much gentleness and allowance for infirmity. If, again, with singleness of main purpose was combined at times the astuteness of the diplomatist, and a certain degree of politic insincerity in addressing potentates, his aims were never personal or selfish. And if he could stoop, for the attainment of his ends, to the then prevalent adulation of the great, he could also speak his mind fearlessly to the greatest, when he felt great principles to be at stake."


 § 51. Gregory and the Universal Episcopate.


The activity, of Gregory tended powerfully to establish the authority of the papal chair. He combined a triple dignity, episcopal, metropolitan, and patriarchal. He was bishop of the city of Rome, metropolitan over the seven suffragan (afterwards called cardinal) bishops of the Roman territory, and patriarch of Italy, in fact of the whole West, or of all the Latin churches. This claim was scarcely disputed except as to the degree of his power in particular cases. A certain primacy of honor among all the patriarchs was also conceded, even by the East. But a universal episcopate, including an authority of jurisdiction over the Eastern or Greek church, was not acknowledged, and, what is more remarkable, was not even claimed by him, but emphatically declined and denounced. He stood between the patriarchal and the strictly papal system. He regarded the four patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, to whom he announced his election with a customary confession of his faith, as co-ordinate leaders of the church under Christ, the supreme head, corresponding as it were to the four oecumenical councils and the four gospels, as their common foundation, yet after all with a firm belief in a papal primacy. His correspondence with the East on this subject is exceedingly important. The controversy began in 595, and lasted several years, but was not settled.

John IV., the Faster, patriarch of Constantinople, repeatedly used in his letters the title "oecumenical" or "universal bishop."  This was an honorary, title, which had been given to patriarchs by the emperors Leo and Justinian, and confirmed to John and his successors by a Constantinopolitan synod in 588. It had also been used in the Council of Chalcedon of pope Leo I.216  But Gregory I. was provoked and irritated beyond measure by the assumption of his Eastern rival, and strained every nerve to procure a revocation of that title. He characterized it as a foolish, proud, profane, wicked, pestiferous, blasphemous, and diabolical usurpation, and compared him who used it to Lucifer. He wrote first to Sabinianus, his apocrisiarius or ambassador in Constantinople, then repeatedly to the patriarch, to the emperor Mauricius, and even to the empress; for with all his monkish contempt for woman, he availed himself on every occasion of the female influence in high quarters. He threatened to break off communion with the patriarch. He called upon the emperor to punish such presumption, and reminded him of the contamination of the see of Constantinople by such arch-heretics as Nestorius.217

Failing in his efforts to change the mind of his rival in New Rome, he addressed himself to the patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch, and played upon their jealousy; but they regarded the title simply as a form of honor, and one of them addressed him as oecumenical pope, a compliment which Gregory could not consistently accept.218

After the death of John the Faster in 596 Gregory instructed his ambassador at Constantinople to demand from the new patriarch, Cyriacus, as a condition of intercommunion, the renunciation of the wicked title, and in a letter to Maurice he went so far as to declare, that "whosoever calls himself universal priest, or desires to be called so, was the forerunner of Antichrist."219

In opposition to these high-sounding epithets, Gregory called himself, in proud humility, "the servant of the servants of God."220  This became one of the standing titles of the popes, although it sounds like irony in conjunction with their astounding claims.

But his remonstrance was of no avail. Neither the patriarch nor the emperor obeyed his wishes. Hence he hailed a change of government which occurred in 602 by a violent revolution.

When Phocas, an ignorant, red-haired, beardless, vulgar, cruel and deformed upstart, after the most atrocious murder of Maurice and his whole family (a wife, six sons and three daughters), ascended the throne, Gregory hastened to congratulate him and his wife Leontia (who was not much better) in most enthusiastic terms, calling on heaven and earth to rejoice at their accession, and vilifying the memory of the dead emperor as a tyrant, from whose yoke the church was now fortunately freed.221  This is a dark spot, but the only really dark and inexcusable spot in the life of this pontiff. He seemed to have acted in this case on the infamous maxim that the end justifies the means.222  His motive was no doubt to secure the protection and aggrandizement of the Roman see. He did not forget to remind the empress of the papal proof-text: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church," and to add: "I do not doubt that you will take care to oblige and bind him to you, by whom you desire to be loosed from your sins."

The murderer and usurper repaid the favor by taking side with the pope against his patriarch (Cyriacus), who had shown sympathy with the unfortunate emperor. He acknowledged the Roman church to be "the head of all churches."223  But if he ever made such a decree at the instance of Boniface III., who at that time was papal nuntius at Constantinople, he must have meant merely such a primacy of honor as had been before conceded to Rome by the Council of Chalcedon and the emperor Justinian. At all events the disputed title continued to be used by the patriarchs and emperors of Constantinople. Phocas, after a disgraceful reign (602–610), was stripped of the diadem and purple, loaded with chains, insulted, tortured, beheaded and cast into the flames. He was succeeded by Heraclius.

In this whole controversy the pope’s jealousy of the patriarch is very manifest, and suggests the suspicion that it inspired the protest.

Gregory displays in his correspondence with his rival a singular combination of pride and humility. He was too proud to concede to him the title of a universal bishop, and yet too humble or too inconsistent to claim it for himself. His arguments imply that he would have the best right to the title, if it were not wrong in itself. His real opinion is perhaps best expressed in a letter to Eulogius of Alexandria. He accepts all the compliments which Eulogius paid to him as the successor of Peter, whose very name signifies firmness and solidity; but he ranks Antioch and Alexandria likewise as sees of Peter, which are nearly, if not quite, on a par with that of Rome, so that the three, as it were, constitute but one see. He ignores Jerusalem. "The see of the Prince of the Apostles alone," he says, "has acquired a principality of authority, which is the see of one only, though in three places (quae in tribus locis unius est). For he himself has exalted the see in which he deigned to rest and to end his present life [Rome]. He himself adorned the see [Alexandria] to which he sent his disciple [Mark] as evangelist. He himself established the see in which he sat for seven years [Antioch]. Since, then, the see is one, and of one, over which by divine authority three bishops now preside, whatever good I hear of you I impute to myself. If you believe anything good of me, impute this to your own merits; because we are one in Him who said: ’That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that all may be one in us’ (John xvii. 21)."224

When Eulogius, in return for this exaltation of his own see, afterwards addressed Gregory as "universal pope," he strongly repudiated the title, saying: "I have said that neither to me nor to any one else (nec mihi, nec cuiquam alteri) ought you to write anything of the kind. And lo! in the preface of your letter you apply to me, who prohibited it, the proud title of universal pope; which thing I beg your most sweet Holiness to do no more, because what is given to others beyond what reason requires is subtracted from you. I do not esteem that an honor by which I know my brethren lose their honor. My honor is that of the universal Church. My honor is the solid strength of my brethren. I am then truly honored when all and each are allowed the honor that is due to them. For, if your Holiness calls me universal pope, you deny yourself to be that which you call me universally [that is, you own yourself to be no pope]. But no more of this: away with words which inflate pride and wound charity!"  He even objects to the expression, "as thou hast commanded," which had occurred in hid correspondent’s letter. "Which word, ’commanded,’ I pray you let me hear no more; for I know what I am, and what you are: in position you are my brethren, in manners you are my, fathers. I did not, therefore, command, but desired only to indicate what seemed to me expedient."225

On the other hand, it cannot be denied that Gregory, while he protested in the strongest terms against the assumption by the Eastern patriarchs of the antichristian and blasphemous title of universal bishop, claimed and exercised, as far as he had the opportunity and power, the authority and oversight over the whole church of Christ, even in the East. "With respect to the church of Constantinople," he asks in one of his letters, "who doubts that it is subject to the apostolic see?"  And in another letter: "I know not what bishop is not subject to it, if fault is found in him."  "To all who know the Gospels," he writes to emperor Maurice, "it is plain that to Peter, as the prince of all the apostles, was committed by our Lord the care of the whole church (totius ecclesiae cura) .... But although the keys of the kingdom of heaven and the power to bind and to loose, were intrusted to him, and the care and principality of the whole church (totius ecclesiae cura et principatus), he is not called universal bishop; while my most holy fellow-priest (vir sanctissimus consacerdos meus) John dares to call himself universal bishop. I am compelled to exclaim: O tempora, O mores!"226

We have no right to impeach Gregory’s sincerity. But he was clearly inconsistent in disclaiming the name, and yet claiming the thing itself. The real objection is to the pretension of a universal episcopate, not to the title. If we concede the former, the latter is perfectly legitimate. And such universal power had already been claimed by Roman pontiffs before Gregory, such as Leo I., Felix, Gelasius, Hormisdas, in language and acts more haughty and self-sufficient than his.

 No wonder, therefore that the successors of Gregory, less humble and more consistent than he, had no scruple to use equivalent and even more arrogant titles than the one against which he so solemnly protested with the warning: "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble."227  But it is a very remarkable fact, that at the beginning of the unfolding of the greatest power of the papacy one of the best of popes should have protested against the antichristian pride and usurpation of the system.


 § 52. The Writings of Gregory.


Comp. the second part of Lau’s biography, pp. 311 sqq., and Adolf Ebert: Geschichte der Christlich-Lateinischen Literatur, bis zum Zeitalter Karls der Grossen. Leipzig, 1874 sqq., vol. I. 516 sqq.


With all the multiplicity of his cares, Gregory found time for literary labor. His books are not of great literary merit, but were eminently popular and useful for the clergy of the middle ages.

His theology was based upon the four oecumenical councils and the four Gospels, which he regarded as the immovable pillars of orthodoxy; he also accepted the condemnation of the three chapters by the fifth oecumenical council. He was a moderate Augustinian, but with an entirely practical, unspeculative, uncritical, traditional and superstitious bent of mind. His destruction of the Palatine Library, if it ever existed, is now rejected as a fable; but it reflects his contempt for secular and classical studies as beneath the dignity of a Christian bishop. Yet in ecclesiastical learning and pulpit eloquence he had no superior in his age.

Gregory is one of the great doctors or authoritative fathers of the church. His views on sin and grace are almost semi-Pelagian. He makes predestination depend on fore-knowledge; represents the fallen nature as sick only, not as dead; lays great stress on the meritoriousness of good works, and is chiefly responsible for the doctrine of a purgatorial fire, and masses for the benefit of the souls in purgatory.

His Latin style is not classical, but ecclesiastical and monkish; it abounds in barbarisms; it is prolix and chatty, but occasionally sententious and rising to a rhetorical pathos, which he borrowed from the prophets of the Old Testament.

The following are his works:

1. Magna Moralia, in thirty-five books. This large work was begun in Constantinople at the instigation of Leander, bishop of Seville, and finished in Rome. It is a three-fold exposition of the book of Job according to its historic or literal, its allegorical, and its moral meaning.228

Being ignorant of the Hebrew and Greek languages, and of Oriental history and customs (although for some time a resident of Constantinople), Gregory lacked the first qualifications for a grammatical and historical interpretation.

The allegorical part is an exegetical curiosity he reads between or beneath the lines of that wonderful poem the history of Christ and a whole system of theology natural and revealed. The names of persons and things, the numbers, and even the syllables, are filled with mystic meaning. Job represents Christ; his wife the carnal nature; his seven sons (seven being the number of perfection) represent the apostles, and hence the clergy; his three daughters the three classes of the faithful laity who are to worship the Trinity; his friends the heretics; the seven thousand sheep the perfect Christians; the three thousand camels the heathen and Samaritans; the five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred she-asses again the heathen, because the prophet Isaiah says: "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider."

The moral sense, which Gregory explains last, is an edifying homiletical expansion and application, and a sort of compend of Christian ethics.

2. Twenty-two Homilies on Ezekiel, delivered in Rome during the siege by Agilulph, and afterwards revised.

3. Forty Homilies on the Gospels for the day, preached by Gregory at various times, and afterwards edited.

4. Liber Regulae Pastoralis, in four parts. It is a pastoral theology, treating of the duties and responsibilities of the ministerial office, in justification of his reluctance to undertake the burden of the papal dignity. It is more practical than Chrysostom’s "Priesthood."  It was held in the highest esteem in the Middle Ages, translated into Greek by order of the emperor Maurice, and into Anglo-Saxon by King Alfred, and given to the bishops in France at their ordination, together with the book of canons, as a guide in the discharge of their duties. Gregory, according to the spirit of his age, enjoins strict celibacy even upon sub-deacons. But otherwise he gives most excellent advice suitable to all times. He makes preaching one of the chief duties of pastors, in the discharge of which he himself set a good example. He warns them to guard against the besetting sin of pride at the very outset; for they will not easily learn humility in a high position. They should preach by their lives as well as their words. "He who, by the necessity of his position, is required to speak the highest things, is compelled by the same necessity to exemplify the highest. For that voice best penetrates the hearts of hearers which the life of the speaker commends, because what he commends in his speech he helps to practice by his example."  He advises to combine meditation and action. "Our Lord," he says, "continued in prayer on the mountain, but wrought miracles in the cities; showing to pastors that while aspiring to the highest, they should mingle in sympathy with the necessities of the infirm. The more kindly charity descends to the lowest, the more vigorously it recurs to the highest."  The spiritual ruler should never be so absorbed in external cares as to forget the inner life of the soul, nor neglect external things in the care for his inner life. "The word of doctrine fails to penetrate the mind of the needy, unless commended by the hand of compassion."

5. Four books of Dialogues on the lives and miracles of St. Benedict of Nursia and other Italian saints, and on the immortality of the soul (593). These dialogues between Gregory and the Roman archdeacon Peter abound in incredible marvels and visions of the state of departed souls. He acknowledges, however, that he knew these stories only from hearsay, and defends his recording them by the example of Mark and Luke, who reported the gospel from what they heard of the eye-witnesses. His veracity, therefore, is not at stake; but it is strange that a man of his intelligence and good sense should believe such grotesque and childish marvels. The Dialogues are the chief source of the mediaeval superstitions about purgatory. King Alfred ordered them to be translated into the Anglo-Saxon.

6. His Epistles (838 in all) to bishops, princes, missionaries, and other persons in all parts of Christendom, give us the best idea of his character and administration, and of the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons. They treat of topics of theology, morals, politics, diplomacy, monasticism, episcopal and papal administration, and give us the best insight into his manifold duties, cares, and sentiments.

7. The Gregorian Sacramentary is based upon the older Sacramentaries of Gelasius and Leo I., with some changes in the Canon of the Mass. His assertion that in the celebration of the eucharist, the apostles used the Lord’s Prayer only (solummodo), has caused considerable discussion. Probably he meant no other prayer, in addition to the words of institution, which he took for granted.

8. A collection of antiphons for mass (Liber Antiphonarius). It contains probably later additions. Several other works of doubtful authenticity, and nine Latin hymns are also attributed to Gregory. They are in the metre of St. Ambrose, without the rhyme, except the "Rex Christe, factor omnium" (which is very highly spoken of by Luther). They are simple, devout, churchly, elevated in thought and sentiment, yet without poetic fire and vigor. Some of them as "Blest Creator of the Light" (Lucis Creator optime), "O merciful Creator, hear" (Audi, beate Conditor), "Good it is to keep the fast" (Clarum decus jejunii), have recently been made familiar to English readers in free translations from the Anglo-Catholic school.229  He was a great ritualist (hence called "Master of Ceremonies"), but with considerable talent for sacred poetry and music. The "Cantus Gregorianus" so called was probably a return from the artistic and melodious antiphonal "Cantus Ambrosianus" to the more ancient and simple mode of chanting. He founded a school of singers, which became a nursery of similar schools in other churches.230

 Some other writings attributed to him, as an Exposition of the First Book of Kings, and an allegorical Exposition of the Canticles, are of doubtful genuineness.


 § 53. The Papacy from Gregory I to Gregory II a.d. 604–715.


The successors of Gregory I. to Gregory II. were, with few exceptions, obscure men, and ruled but a short time. They were mostly Italians, many of them Romans; a few were Syrians, chosen by the Eastern emperors in the interest of their policy and theology.

Sabinianus (604) was as hard and avaricious as Gregory was benevolent and liberal, and charged the famine of his reign upon the prodigality of his sainted predecessor. Boniface III. (606607) did not scruple to assume the title of It universal bishop, "against which Gregory, in proud humility, had so indignantly protested as a blasphemous antichristian assumption. Boniface IV. converted the Roman Pantheon into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs (608). Honorius l. (625–638) was condemned by an oecumenical council and by his own successors as a Monothelite heretic; while Martin I. (649–655) is honored for the persecution he endured in behalf of the orthodox doctrine of two wills in Christ. Under Gregory II. and III., Germany was converted to Roman Christianity.

The popes followed the missionary policy of Gregory and the instinct of Roman ambition and power. Every progress of Christianity in the West and the North was a progress of the Roman Church. Augustin, Boniface, Ansgar were Roman missionaries and pioneers of the papacy. As England had been annexed to the triple crown under Gregory I., so France, the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia were annexed under his successors. The British and Scotch-Irish independence gave way gradually to the irresistible progress of Roman authority and uniformity. Priests, noblemen and kings from all parts of the West were visiting Rome as the capital of Christendom, and paid homage to the shrine of the apostles and to the living successor of the Galilaean fisherman.

But while the popes thus extended their spiritual dominion over the new barbarous races, they were the political subjects of the Eastern emperor as the master of Italy, and could not be consecrated without his consent. They were expected to obey the imperial edicts even in spiritual matters, and were subject to arrest and exile. To rid themselves of this inconvenient dependence was a necessary step in the development of the absolute papacy. It was effected in the eighth century by the aid of a rising Western power. The progress of Mohammedanism and its encroachment on the Greek empire likewise contributed to their independence.


 § 54. From Gregory II to Zacharias. a.d. 715–741.


Gregory II. (715–731) marks the transition to this new state of things. He quarreled with the iconoclastic emperor, Leo the Isaurian, about the worship of images. Under his pontificate, Liutprand,231 the ablest and mightiest king of the Lombards, conquered the Exarchate of Ravenna, and became master of Italy.

But the sovereignty of a barbarian and once Arian power was more odious and dangerous to the popes than that of distant Constantinople. Placed between the heretical emperor and the barbarian robber, they looked henceforth to a young and rising power beyond the Alps for deliverance and protection. The Franks were Catholics from the time of their conversion under Clovis, and achieved under Charles Martel (the Hammer) a mighty victory over the Saracens (732), which saved Christian Europe against the invasion and tyranny of Islâm. They had thus become the protectors of Latin Christianity. They also lent their aid to Boniface in the conversion of Germany.

Gregory, III. (731–741) renewed the negotiations with the Franks, begun by his predecessor. When the Lombards again invaded the territory, of Rome, and were ravaging by fire and sword the last remains of the property of the church, he appealed in piteous and threatening tone to Charles Martel, who had inherited from his father, Pepin of Herstal, the mayoralty of France, and was the virtual ruler of the realm. "Close not your ears," he says, "against our supplications, lest St. Peter close against you the gates of heaven."  He sent him the keys of the tomb of St. Peter as a symbol of allegiance, and offered him the titles of Patrician and Consul of Rome.232  This was virtually a declaration of independence from Constantinople. Charles Martel returned a courteous answer, and sent presents to Rome, but did not cross the Alps. He was abhorred by the clergy of his own country as a sacrilegious spoiler of the property of the church and disposer of bishoprics to his counts and dukes in the place of rightful incumbents.233

The negotiations were interrupted by the death of Charles Martel Oct. 21, 741, followed by that of Gregory III., Nov. 27 of the same year.


 § 55. Alliance of the Papacy with the New Monarchy of the Franks. Pepin and the Patrimony of St. Peter. a.d. 741–755.


Pope Zacharias (741–752), a Greek, by the weight of his priestly authority, brought Liutprand to terms of temporary submission. The Lombard king suddenly paused in the career of conquest, and died after a reign of thirty years (743).

But his successor, Astolph, again threatened to incorporate Rome with his kingdom. Zacharias sought the protection of Pepin the Short,234 the Mayor of the Palace, son of Charles Martel, and father of Charlemagne, and in return for this aid helped him to the crown of France. This was the first step towards the creation of a Western empire and a new political system of Europe with the pope and the German emperor at the head.

Hereditary succession was not yet invested with that religious sanctity among the Teutonic races as in later ages. In the Jewish theocracy unworthy kings were deposed, and new dynasties elevated by the interposition of God’s messengers. The pope claimed and exercised now for the first time the same power. The Mayor, or high steward, of the royal household in France was the prime minister of the sovereign and the chief of the official and territorial nobility. This dignity became hereditary in the family of Pepin of Laudon, who died in 639, and was transmitted from him through six descents to Pepin the Short, a gallant warrior and an experienced statesman. He was on good terms with Boniface, the apostle of Germany and archbishop of Mayence, who, according to the traditional view, acted as negotiator between him and the pope in this political coup d’etat.235

Childeric III., the last of the hopelessly degenerate Merovingian line, was the mere shadow of a monarch, and forced to retire into a monastery. Pepin, the ruler in fact now assumed the name, was elected at Soissons (March, 752) by the acclamation and clash of arms of the people, and anointed, like the kings of Israel, with holy oil, by Boniface or some other bishop, and two years after by the pope himself, who had decided that the lawful possessor of the royal power may also lawfully assume the royal title. Since that time he called himself "by the grace of God king of the Franks."  The pope conferred on him the title of "Patrician of the Romans" (Patricius Romanorum), which implies a sort of protectorate over the Roman church, and civil sovereignty, over her territory. For the title "Patrician," which was introduced by Constantine the Great signified the highest rank next to that of the emperor, and since the sixth century was attached to the Byzantine Viceroy, of Italy. On the other hand, this elevation and coronation was made the basis of papal superiority over the crowns of France and Germany.

The pope soon reaped the benefit of his favor. When hard pressed again by the Lombards, he called the new king to his aid.

Stephen III., who succeeded Zacharias in March, 752, and ruled till 757, visited Pepin in person, and implored him to enforce the restoration of the domain of St. Peter. He anointed him again at St. Denys, together with his two sons, and promised to secure the perpetuity of his dynasty by the fearful power of the interdict and excommunication. Pepin accompanied him back to Italy and defeated the Lombards (754). When the Lombards renewed the war, the pope wrote letter upon letter to Pepin, admonishing and commanding him in the name of Peter and the holy Mother of God to save the city of Rome from the detested enemies, and promising him long life and the most glorious mansions in heaven, if he speedily obeyed. To such a height of blasphemous assumption had the papacy risen already as to identify itself with the kingdom of Christ and to claim to be the dispenser of temporal prosperity and eternal salvation.

Pepin crossed the Alps again with his army, defeated the Lombards, and bestowed the conquered territory upon the pope (755). He declared to the ambassadors of the East who demanded the restitution of Ravenna and its territory to the Byzantine empire, that his sole object in the war was to show his veneration for St. Peter. The new papal district embraced the Exarchate and the Pentapolis, East of the Apennines, with the cities of Ravenna, Rimini, Pesaro, Fano, Cesena, Sinigaglia, lesi, Forlimpopoli, Forli, Montefeltro, Acerra, Monte di Lucano, Serra, San Marino, Bobbio, Urbino, Cagli, Luciolo, Gubbio, Comachio, and Narni.236

This donation of Pepin is the foundation of "the Patrimony of St. Peter."  The pope was already in possession of tracts of land in Italy and elsewhere granted to the church. But by this gift of a foreign conqueror he became a temporal sovereign over a large part of Italy, while claiming to be the successor of Peter who had neither silver nor gold, and the vicar of Christ who said: "My kingdom is not of this world."  The temporal power made the papacy independent in the exercise of its jurisdiction, but at the expense of its spiritual character. It provoked a long conflict with the secular power; it involved it in the political interests, intrigues and wars of Europe, and secularized the church and the hierarchy. Dante, who shared the mediaeval error of dating the donation of Pepin back to Constantine the Great,237 gave expression to this view in the famous lines:


"Ah, Constantine! of how much ill was mother,

Not thy conversion, but that marriage-dower

Which the first wealthy Father took from thee."238


Yet Dante places Constantine, who "from good intent produced evil fruit," in heaven; where


"Now he knows how all the ill deduced

From his good action is not harmful to him,

Although the world thereby may be destroyed."

And he speaks favorably of Charlemagne’s intervention in behalf of the pope:


"And when the tooth of Lombardy had bitten

The Holy Church, then underneath its wings

Did Charlemagne victorious succor her."239


The policy of Pepin was followed by Charlemagne, the German, and Austrian emperors, and modern French rulers who interfered in Italian affairs, now as allies, now as enemies, until the temporal power of the papacy was lost under its last protector, Napoleon III., who withdrew his troops from Rome to fight against Germany, and by his defeat prepared the way for Victor Emanuel to take possession of Rome, as the capital of free and united Italy (1870). Since that time the pope who a few weeks before had proclaimed to the world his own infallibility in all matters of faith and morals, is confined to the Vatican, but with no diminution of his spiritual power as the bishop of bishops over two hundred millions of souls.


 § 56. Charles the Great. a.d. 768–814.




Beati Caroli Magni Opera omnia. 2 vols. In Migne’s Patrol. Lat. Tom. 97 and 98. The first vol. contains the Codex Diplomaticus, Capitularia, and Privilegia; the second vol., the Codex Carolinus, the Libri Carolini (on the image controversy), the Epistolae, Carminâ, etc.

1. The Letters of Charles, of Einhard, and of Alcuin. Also the letters of the Popes to Charles and his two predecessors, which he had collected, and which are called the Codex Carolinus, ed. by Muratori, Cenni, ad Migne (Tom. 98, pp. 10 sqq.).

2. The Capitularies and Laws of Charlemagne, contained in the first vol. of the Leges in the Mon. Germ., ed. by Pertz, and in the Collections of Baluzius and Migne.

3. Annals. The Annales Laurissenses Majores (probably the official chronicle of the court) from 788 to 813; the Annales Einhardi, written after 829; the Annales Petaviani, Laureshamenses, Mosellani, and others, more of local than general value. All in the first and second vol. of Pertz, Monumenta Germanica Hist. Script.

4. Biographies: Einhard or Eginhard (b. 770, educated at Fulda, private secretary of Charlemagne, afterwards Benedictine monk): Vita Caroli Imperatoris (English translation by S. S. Turner, New York, 1880). A true sketch of what Charles was by an admiring and loving hand in almost classical Latin, and after the manner of Sueton’s Lives of the Roman emperors. It marks, as Ad. Ebert says (II. 95), the height of the classical studies of the age of Charlemagne. Milman (II. 508) calls it "the best historic work which had appeared in the Latin language for centuries."—Poeta Saxo: Annales de Gestis Caroli, from the end of the ninth century. An anonymous monk of St. Gall: De Gestis Caroli, about the same time. In Pertz, l.c., and Jaffe’s Monumenta Carolina (Bibl. Rer. Germ., T. IV.), also in Migne, Tom. I., Op. Caroli.

Comp. on the sources Abel’s Jahrbucher des Fränk. Reichs (Berlin, 1866) and Wattenbach’s Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter (Berlin, 1858; 4th ed. 1877–78, 2 vols.)




J. G. Walch: Historia Canonisationis Caroli M. Jen., 1750.

Putter: De Instauratione Imp. Rom. Gött., 1766.

Gaillard: Histoire de Charlemagne. Paris, 1784, 4 vols. secd ed. 1819.

Gibbon: Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Ch. 49.

J. Ellendorf: Die Karolinger und die Hierarchie ihrer Zeit. Essen., 1838, 2 vols.

Hegewisch: Geschichte der Regierung Kaiser Karls des Gr. Hamb., 1791.

Dippolt: Leben K. Karls des Gr. Tub., 1810.

G. P. R. James: The History of Charlemagne. London, 2nd ed. 1847.

Bähr: Gesch. der röm. Lit. im Karoling. Zeitalter. Carlsruhe, 1840.

Gfrörer: Geschichte der Karolinger. Freiburg i. B., 1848, 2 vols.

Capefigue: Charlemagne. Paris, 1842, 2 vols.

Warnkönig et Gerard: Hist. des Carolingians. Brux. and Paris, 1862, 2 vols.

Waitz: Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte, vols. III. and IV.

W. Giesebrecht: Geschichte der deutschen Kaiserzeit. Braunschweig, 1863 sqq. (3rd ed.). Bd. I., pp. 106 sqq.

Döllinger: Kaiserthum Karls des Grossen, in the Munchener Hist. Jahrbuch for 1865.

Gaston: Histoire poetique de Charlemagne. Paris, 1865.

P. Alberdinck Thijm: Karl der Gr. und seine Zeit. Munster, 1868.

Abel: Jahrbucher des Fränkischen Reichs unter Karl d. Grossen. Berlin, 1866.

Wyss: Karl der Grosse als Gesetzgeber. Zurich, 1869.

Rettberg: Kirchengeschichte Deutschlands, I. 419 sqq., II. 382 sqq.

Alphonse Vétault: Charlemagne. Tours, 1877 (556 pp.). With fine illustrations.

L. Stacke: Deutsche Geschichte. Leipzig, 1880. Bd. I. 169 sqq. With illustrations and maps.

Comp. also Milman: Latin Christianity, Book IV., ch. 12, and Book V., ch. 1; Ad. Ebert: Geschichte der Literatur des Mittelalters im Abendlande (1880), vol. II. 3–108. Of French writers, Guizot, and Martin, in their Histories of France; also Parke Godwin, History of France, chs. xvi. and xvii. (vol. I. 410 sqq.).


With the death of Pepin the Short (Sept. 24, 768), the kingdom of France was divided between his two sons, Charles and Carloman, the former to rule in the Northern, the latter in the Southern provinces. After the death of his weaker brother (771) Charles, ignoring the claims of his infant nephews, seized the sole reign and more than doubled its extent by his conquests.


Character and Aim of Charlemagne.


This extraordinary man represents the early history of both France and Germany which afterwards divided into separate streams, and commands the admiration of both countries and nations. His grand ambition was to unite all the Teutonic and Latin races on the Continent under his temporal sceptre in close union with the spiritual dominion of the pope; in other words, to establish a Christian theocracy, coëxtensive with the Latin church (exclusive of the British Isles and Scandinavia). He has been called the "Moses of the middle age," who conducted the Germanic race through the desert of barbarism and gave it a now code of political, civil and ecclesiastical laws. He stands at the head of the new Western empire, as Constantine the Great had introduced the Eastern empire, and he is often called the new Constantine, but is as far superior to him as the Latin empire was to the Greek. He was emphatically a man of Providence.

Charlemagne, or Karl der Grosse, towers high above the crowned princes of his age, and is the greatest as well as the first of the long line of German emperors from the eighth to the nineteenth century. He is the only prince whose greatness has been inseparably blended with his French name.240  Since Julius Caesar history had seen no conqueror and statesman of such commanding genius and success; history after him produced only two military heroes that may be compared with him) Frederick II. of Prussia, and Napoleon Bonaparte (who took him and Caesar for his models), but they were far beneath him in religious character, and as hostile to the church as he was friendly to it. His lofty intellect shines all the more brightly from the general ignorance and barbarism of his age. He rose suddenly like a meteor in dark midnight. We do not know even the place and date of his birth, nor the history of his youth and education.241


His Reign.


His life is filled with no less than fifty-three military campaigns conducted by himself or his lieutenants, against the Saxons (18 campaigns), Lombards (5), Aquitanians, Thuringians, Bavarians) Avars or Huns, Danes, Slaves, Saracens, and Greeks. His incessant activity astonished his subjects and enemies. He seemed to be omnipresent in his dominions, which extended from the Baltic and the Elbe in the North to the Ebro in the South, from the British Channel to Rome and even to the Straits of Messina, embracing France, Germany, Hungary, the greater part of Italy and Spain. His ecclesiastical domain extended over twenty-two archbishoprics or metropolitan sees, Rome, Ravenna, Milan, Friuli (Aquileia), Grado, Cologne, Mayence, Salzburg, Treves, Sens, Besançon, Lyons, Rouen, Rheims, Arles, Vienna, Moutiers-en-Tarantaise, Ivredun, Bordeaux, Tours, Bourges, Narbonne.242  He had no settled residence, but spent much time on the Rhine, at Ingelheim, Mayence, Nymwegen, and especially at Aix-la-Chapelle on account of its baths. He encouraged trade, opened roads, and undertook to connect the Main and the Danube by canal. He gave his personal attention to things great and small. He introduced a settled order and unity of organization in his empire, at the expense of the ancient freedom and wild independence of the German tribes, although he continued to hold every year, in May, the general assembly of the freemen (Maifeld). He secured Europe against future heathen and Mohammedan invasion and devastation. He was universally admired or feared in his age. The Greek emperors sought his alliance; hence the Greek proverb, "Have the Franks for your friends, but not for your neighbors."  The Caliph Harounal-Raschid, the mightiest ruler in the East, sent from Bagdad an embassy to him with precious gifts. But he esteemed a good sword more than gold. He impressed the stamp of his genius and achievements upon the subsequent history of Germany and France.


Appearance and Habits of Charlemagne.


Charles had a commanding, and yet winning presence. His physique betrayed the greatness of his mind. He was tall, strongly built and well proportioned. His height was seven times the length of his foot. He had large and animated eyes, a long nose, a cheerful countenance and an abundance of fine hair. "His appearance," says Eginhard, "was always stately and dignified, whether he was standing or sitting; although his neck was thick and somewhat short, and his belly rather prominent; but the symmetry of the rest of his body concealed these defects. His gait was firm, his whole carriage manly, and his voice clear, but not so strong as his size led one to expect."243

He was naturally eloquent, and spoke with great clearness and force. He was simple in his attire, and temperate in eating and drinking; for, says Eginhard, "he abominated drunkenness in anybody, much more in himself and those of his household. He rarely gave entertainments, only on great feast days, and these to large numbers of people."  He was fond of muscular exercise, especially of hunting and swimming, and enjoyed robust health till the last four years of his life, when he was subject to frequent fevers. During his meals he had extracts from Augustine’s "City of God" (his favorite book), and stories of olden times, read to him. He frequently gave audience while dressing, without sacrifice of royal dignity. He was kind to the poor, and a liberal almsgiver.


His Zeal for Education.


His greatest merit is his zeal for education and religion. He was familiar with Latin from conversation rather than books, be understood a little Greek, and in his old age he began to learn the art of writing which his hand accustomed to the sword had neglected. He highly esteemed his native language, caused a German grammar to be compiled, and gave German names to the winds and to the months.244  He collected the ancient heroic songs of the German minstrels. He took measures to correct the Latin Version of the Scriptures, and was interested in theological questions. He delighted in cultivated society. He gathered around him divines, scholars, poets, historians, mostly Anglo-Saxons, among whom Alcuin was the chief. He founded the palace school and other schools in the convents, and visited them in person. The legend makes him the founder of the University of Paris, which is of a much later date. One of his laws enjoins general education upon all male children.


His Piety.


Charles was a firm believer in Christianity and a devout and regular worshipper in the church, "going morning and evening, even after nightfall, besides attending mass."  He was very liberal to the clergy. He gave them tithes throughout the empire appointed worthy bishops and abbots, endowed churches and built a splendid cathedral at Aix-la-Chapelle, in which he was buried.

His respect for the clergy culminated in his veneration for the bishop of Rome as the successor of St. Peter. "He cherished the church of St. Peter the apostle at Rome above all other holy and sacred places, and filled its treasury with a vast wealth of gold, silver, and precious stones. He sent great and countless gifts to the popes; and throughout his whole reign the wish he had nearest at heart was to re-establish the ancient authority of the city of Rome under his care and by his influence, and to defend and protect the church of St. Peter, and to beautify and enrich it out of his own store above all other churches."245


His Vices.


Notwithstanding his many and great virtues, Charles was by, no means so pure as the poetry and piety of the church represented him, and far from deserving canonization. He sacrificed thousands of human beings to his towering ambition and passion for conquest. He converted the Saxons by force of arms; he waged for thirty years a war of extermination against them; he wasted their territory with fire and sword; he crushed out their independence; he beheaded in cold blood four thousand five hundred prisoners in one day at Verden on the Aller (782), and when these proud and faithless savages finally surrendered, he removed 10000 of their families from their homes on the banks of the Elbe to different parts of Germany and Gaul to prevent a future revolt. It was indeed a war of religion for the annihilation of heathenism, but conducted on the Mohammedan principle: submission to the faith, or death. This is contrary to the spirit of Christianity which recognizes only the moral means of persuasion and conviction.246

The most serious defect in his private character was his incontinence and disregard of the sanctity of the marriage tie. In this respect he was little better than an Oriental despot or a Mohammedan Caliph. He married several wives and divorced them at his pleasure. He dismissed his first wife (unknown by name) to marry a Lombard princess, and he repudiated her within a year. After the death of his fifth wife he contented himself with three or four concubines. He is said even to have encouraged his own daughters in dissolute habits rather than give them in marriage to princes who might become competitors for a share in the kingdom, but he had them carefully educated. It is not to the credit of the popes that they never rebuked him for this vice, while with weaker and less devoted monarchs they displayed such uncompromising zeal for the sanctity of marriage.247


His Death and Burial.


The emperor died after a short illness, and after receiving the holy communion, Jan. 28, 814, in the 71st year of his age, and the 47th of his reign, and was buried on the same day in the cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle "amid the greatest lamentations of the people."248  Very many omens, adds Eginhard (ch. 32), had portended his approaching end, as he had recognized himself. Eclipses both of the sun and the moon were very frequent during the last three years of his life, and a black spot was visible on the sun for seven days. The bridge over the Rhine at Mayence, which he had constructed in ten years, was consumed by fire; the palace at Aix-la-Chapelle frequently trembled; the basilica was struck by lightning, the gilded ball on the roof shattered by a thunderbolt and hurled upon the bishop’s house adjoining; and the word Princeps after Karolus inscribed on an arch was effaced a few months before his decease. "But Charles despised, or affected to despise, all these things as having no reference whatever to him."


The Charlemagne of Poetry.


The heroic and legendary poetry of the middle ages represents Charles as a giant of superhuman strength and beauty, of enormous appetite, with eyes shining like the morning star, terrible in war, merciful in peace, as a victorious hero, a wise lawgiver, an unerring judge, and a Christian saint. He suffered only one defeat, at Roncesvalles in the narrow passes of the Pyrenees, when, on his return from a successful invasion of Spain, his rearguard with the flower of the French chivalry, under the command of Roland, one of his paladins and nephews, was surprised and routed by the Basque Mountaineers (778).249

The name of "the Blessed Charles" is enrolled in the Roman Calendar for his services to the church and gifts to the pope. Heathen Rome deified Julius Caesar, Christian Rome canonized, or at least beatified Charlemagne. Suffrages for the repose of his soul were continued in the church of Aix-la-Chapelle until Paschal, a schismatical pope, at the desire of Frederic Barbarossa, enshrined his remains in that city and published a decree for his canonization (1166). The act was neither approved nor revoked by a regular pope, but acquiesced in, and such tacit canonization is considered equivalent to beatification.




I. Judgments on the Personal Character of Charlemagne.


Eginhard (whose wife Emma figures in the legend as a daughter of Charlemagne) gives the following frank account of the private and domestic relations of his master and friend (chs. 18 and 19, in Migne, Tom. XCVII. 42 sqq.):

"Thus did Charles defend and increase as well as beautify his kingdom; and here let me express my admiration of his great qualities and his extraordinary constancy alike in good and evil fortune. I will now proceed to give the details of his private life. After his father’s death, while sharing the kingdom with his brother, he bore his unfriendliness and jealousy most patiently, and, to the wonder of all, could not be provoked to be angry with him. Later" [after repudiating his first wife, an obscure person] "he married a daughter of Desiderius, King of the Lombards, at the instance of his mother" [notwithstanding the protest of the pope]; "but he repudiated her at the end of a year for some reason unknown, and married Hildegard, a woman of high birth, of Swabian origin [d. 783]. He had three sons by her,—Charles, Pepin, and Lewis—and as many daughters,—Hruodrud, Bertha, and Gisela."  [Eginhard omits Adelaide and Hildegard.]  "He had three other daughters besides these—Theoderada, Hiltrud, and Ruodhaid—two by his third wife, Fastrada, a woman of East Frankish (that is to say of German) origin, and the third by a concubine, whose name for the moment escapes me. At the death of Fastrada, he married Liutgard, an Alemannic woman, who bore him no children. After her death he had three [according to another reading four] concubines—Gerswinda, a Saxon, by whom he had Adaltrud; Regina, who was the mother of Drogo and Hugh; and Ethelind, by whom he had Theodoric. Charles’s mother, Berthrada, passed her old age with him in great honor; he entertained the greatest veneration for her; and there was never any disagreement between them except when he divorced the daughter of King Desiderius, whom he had married to please her. She died soon after Hildegard, after living to see three grandsons and as many grand-daughters in her son’s house, and he buried her with great pomp in the Basilica of St. Denis, where his father lay. He had an only [surviving] sister, Gisela, who had consecrated herself to a religious life from girlhood, and he cherished as much affection for her as for his mother. She also died a few years before him in the nunnery where she had passed her life. The plan which he adopted for his children’s education was, first of all, to have both boys and girls instructed in the liberal arts, to which he also turned his own attention. As soon as their years admitted, in accordance with the custom of the Franks, the boys had to learn horsemanship, and to practise war and the chase, and the girls to familiarize themselves with cloth-making, and to handle distaff and spindle, that they might not grow indolent through idleness, and he fostered in them every virtuous sentiment. He only lost three of all his children before his death, two sons and one daughter .... When his sons and his daughters died, he was not so calm as might have been expected from his remarkably strong mind, for his affections were no less strong, and moved him to tears. Again when he was told of the death of Hadrian, the Roman Pontiff, whom he had loved most of all his friends, he wept as much as if he had lost a brother, or a very dear son. He was by nature most ready to contract friendships, and not only made friends easily, but clung to them persistently, and cherished most fondly those with whom he had formed such ties. He was so careful of the training of his sons and daughters that he never took his meals without them when he was at home, and never made a journey without them; his sons would ride at his side, and his daughters follow him, while a number of his body-guard, detailed for their protection, brought up the rear. Strange to say, although they were very handsome women, and he loved them very dearly, he was never willing to marry either of them to a man, of their own nation or to a foreigner, but kept them all at home until his, death, saying that he could not dispense with their society. Hence though otherwise happy, he experienced the malignity of fortune as far as they were concerned; yet he concealed his knowledge of the rumors current in regard to them, and of the suspicions entertained of their honor."

Gibbon is no admirer of Charlemagne, and gives an exaggerated view of his worst vice: "Of his moral virtues chastity is not the most conspicuous; but the public happiness could not be materially injured by his nine wives or concubines, the various indulgence of meaner or more transient amours, the multitude of his bastards whom he bestowed on the church, and the long celibacy and licentious manners of his daughters, whom the father was suspected of loving with too fond a passion."  But this charge of incest, as Hallam and Milman observe, seems to have originated in a misinterpreted passage of Eginhard quoted above, and is utterly unfounded.

Henry Hallam (Middle Ages I. 26) judges a little more favorably: The great qualities of Charlemagne were, indeed, alloyed by the vices of a barbarian and a conqueror. Nine wives, whom he divorced with very little ceremony, attest the license of his private life, which his temperance and frugality can hardly be said to redeem. Unsparing of blood, though not constitutionally cruel, and wholly indifferent to the means which his ambition prescribed, he beheaded in one day four thousand Saxons—an act of atrocious butchery, after which his persecuting edicts, pronouncing the pain of death against those who refused baptism, or even who ate flesh during Lent, seem scarcely worthy of notice. This union of barbarous ferocity with elevated views of national improvement might suggest the parallel of Peter the Great. But the degrading habits and brute violence of the Muscovite place him at an immense distance from the restorer of the empire.

"A strong sympathy for intellectual excellence was the leading characteristic of Charlemagne, and this undoubtedly biassed him in the chief political error of his conduct—that of encouraging the power and pretensions of the hierarchy. But, perhaps, his greatest eulogy is written in the disgraces of succeeding times and the miseries of Europe. He stands alone, like a beacon upon a waste, or a rock in the broad ocean. His sceptre was the bow of Ulysses, which could not be drawn by any weaker hand. In the dark ages of European history the reign of Charlemagne affords a solitary resting-place between two long periods of turbulence and ignominy, deriving the advantages of contrast both from that of the preceding dynasty and of a posterity for whom he had formed an empire which they were unworthy and unequal to maintain."

G. P. R. James (History of Charlemagne, Lond., 1847, p. 499): "No man, perhaps, that ever lived, combined in so high a degree those qualities which rule men and direct events, with those which endear the possessor and attach his contemporaries. No man was ever more trusted and loved by his people, more respected and feared by other kings, more esteemed in his lifetime, or more regretted at his death.

Milman (Book V. ch. 1): "Karl, according to his German appellation, was the model of a Teutonic chieftain, in his gigantic stature, enormous strength, and indefatigable activity; temperate in diet, and superior to the barbarous vice of drunkenness. Hunting and war were his chief occupations; and his wars were carried on with all the ferocity of encountering savage tribes. But he was likewise a Roman Emperor, not only in his vast and organizing policy, he had that one vice of the old Roman civilization which the Merovingian kings had indulged, though not perhaps with more unbounded lawlessness. The religious emperor, in one respect, troubled not himself with the restraints of religion. The humble or grateful church beheld meekly, and almost without remonstrance, the irregularity of domestic life, which not merely indulged in free license, but treated the sacred rite of marriage as a covenant dissoluble at his pleasure. Once we have heard, and but once, the church raise its authoritative, its comminatory voice, and that not to forbid the King of the Franks from wedding a second wife while his first was alive, but from marrying a Lombard princess. One pious ecclesiastic alone in his dominion, he a relative, ventured to protest aloud.’)

Guizot (Histoire de la civilisation en France, leçon XX.): "Charlemagne marque la limite à laquelle est enfin consommée la dissolution de l’ancien monde romain et barbare, et où commence la formation du monde nouveau."

Vétault (Charlemagne, 455, 458): "Charlemagne fut, en effet, le père du monde moderne et de la societé européenne .... Si Ch. ne peut être légitemement honoré comme un saint, il a droit du moins à la première place, parmis tous les héros, dans l’admiration des hommes; car on ne trouverait pas un autre souverain qui ait autant aimé l’humanité et lui ait fait plus de bien. Il est le plus glorieux, parce que ... il a mérite d’ être proclamé le plus honnête des grands hommes."

Giesebrecht, the historian of the German emperors, gives a glowing description of Charlemagne (I. 140): "Many high-minded rulers arose in the ten centuries after Charles, but none had a higher aim. To be ranked with him, satisfied the boldest conquerors, the wisest princes of peace. French chivalry of later times glorified Charlemagne as the first cavalier; the German burgeoisie as the fatherly friend of the people and the most righteous judge; the Catholic Church raised him to the number of her saints; the poetry of all nations derived ever new inspiration and strength from his mighty person. Never perhaps has richer life proceeded from the activity of a mortal man (Nie vielleicht ist reicheres Leben von der Wirksamkeit eines sterblichen Menschen ausgegangen)."

We add the eloquent testimony of an American author, Parke Godwin (History of France, N. Y., 1860, vol. i. p. 410): "There is to me something indescribably grand in the figure of many of the barbaric chiefs—Alariks, Ataulfs, Theodoriks, and Euriks—who succeeded to the power of the Romans, and in their wild, heroic way, endeavored to raise a fabric of state on the ruins of the ancient empire. But none of those figures is so imposing and majestic as that of Karl, the son of Pippin, whose name, for the first and only time in history, the admiration of mankind has indissolubly blended with the title the Great. By the peculiarity of his position in respect to ancient and modern times—by the extraordinary length of his reign, by the number and importance of the transactions in which he was engaged, by the extent and splendor of his conquests, by his signal services to the Church, and by the grandeur of his personal qualities—he impressed himself so profoundly upon the character of his times, that he stands almost alone and apart in the annals of Europe. For nearly a thousand years before him, or since the days of Julius Caesar, no monarch had won so universal and brilliant a renown; and for nearly a thousand years after him, or until the days of Charles V. of Germany, no monarch attained any thing like an equal dominion. A link between the old and new, he revived the Empire of the West, with a degree of glory that it had only enjoyed in its prime; while, at the same time, the modern history of every Continental nation was made to begin with him. Germany claims him as one of her most illustrious sons; France, as her noblest king; Italy, as her chosen emperor; and the Church as her most prodigal benefactor and worthy saint. All the institutions of the Middle Ages—political, literary, scientific, and ecclesiastical—delighted to trace their traditionary origins to his hand: he was considered the source of the peerage, the inspirer of chivalry, the founder of universities, and the endower of the churches; and the genius of romance, kindling its fantastic torches at the flame of his deeds, lighted up a new and marvellous world about him, filled with wonderful adventures and heroic forms. Thus by a double immortality, the one the deliberate award of history, and the other the prodigal gift of fiction, he claims the study of mankind."

II. The Canonization of Charlemagne is perpetuated in the Officium in festo Sancti Caroli Magni imperatoris et confessoris, as celebrated in churches of Germany, France, and Spain. Baronius (Annal. ad ann. 814) says that the canonization was, not accepted by the Roman church, because Paschalis was no legitimate pope, but neither was it forbidden. Alban Butler, in his Lives of Saints, gives a eulogistic biography of the "Blessed Charlemagne," and covers his besetting sin with the following unhistorical assertion: "The incontinence, into which he fell in his youth, he expiated by sincere repentance, so that several churches in Germany and France honor him among the saints."






The monogram of Charles with the additions of a scribe in a document signed by Charles at Kufstein, Aug. 31, 790. Copied from Stacke, l.c.


 § 57. Founding of the Holy Roman Empire, a.d. 800. Charlemagne and Leo III


G. Sugenheim: Geschichte der Entstehung und Ausbildung des Kirchenstaates. Leipz. 1854.

F. Scharpff: Die Entstehung des kirchenstaats. Freib. i. B. 1860.

TH. D. Mock: De Donatione a Carolo Mag. sedi apostolicae anno 774 oblata. Munich 1861.

James Bryce: The Holy Roman Empire. Lond. & N. York (Macmillan & Co.) 6th ed. 1876, 8th ed. 1880. German translation by Arthur Winckler.

Heinrich von Sybel: Die Schenkungen der Karolinger an die Päpste. In Sybel’s "Hist. Zeitschrift," Munchen & Leipz. 1880, pp. 46–85.

Comp. Baxmann: I. 307 sqq.; Vétault: Ch. III. pp. 113 sqq. (Charlemagne, patrice des Romains-Formation des états de l’église).


Charlemagne inherited the protectorate of the temporal dominions of the pope which had been wrested from the Lombards by Pepin, as the Lombards had wrested them from the Eastern emperor. When the Lombards again rebelled and the pope (Hadrian) again appealed to the transalpine monarch for help, Charles in the third year of his sole reign (774) came to the rescue, crossed the Alps with an army—a formidable undertaking in those days—subdued Italy with the exception of a small part of the South still belonging to the Greek empire, held a triumphal entry in Rome, and renewed and probably enlarged his father’s gift to the pope. The original documents have perished, and no contemporary authority vouches for the details; but the fact is undoubted. The gift rested only on the right of conquest. Henceforward he always styled himself "Rex Francorum et Longobardorum, et Patricius Romanorum."  His authority over the immediate territory of the Lombards in Northern Italy was as complete as that in France, but the precise nature of his authority over the pope’s dominion as Patrician of the Romans became after his death an apple of discord for centuries. Hadrian, to judge from his letters, considered himself as much an absolute sovereign in his dominion as Charles in his.

In 781 at Easter Charles revisited Rome with his son Pepin, who on that occasion was anointed by the pope "King for Italy" ("Rex in Italiam"). On a third visit., in 787, he spent a few days with his friend, Hadrian, in the interest of the patrimony of St. Peter. When Leo III. followed Hadrian (796) he immediately dispatched to Charles, as tokens of submission the keys and standards of the city, and the keys of the sepulchre of Peter.

A few years afterwards a terrible riot broke out in Rome in which the pope was assaulted and almost killed (799). He fled for help to Charles, then at Paderborn in Westphalia, and was promised assistance. The next year Charles again crossed the Alps and declared his intention to investigate the charges of certain unknown crimes against Leo, but no witness appeared to prove them. Leo publicly read a declaration of his own innocence, probably at the request of Charles, but with a protest that this declaration should not be taken for a precedent. Soon afterwards occurred the great event which marks an era in the ecclesiastical and political history of Europe.


The Coronation of Charles as Emperor.


While Charles was celebrating Christmas in St. Peter’s, in the year of our Lord 800, and kneeling in prayer before the altar, the pope, as under a sudden inspiration (but no doubt in consequence of a premeditated scheme), placed a golden crown upon his head, and the Roman people shouted three times: "To Charles Augustus, crowned by God, the great and pacific emperor of the Romans, life and victory!"  Forthwith, after ancient custom, he was adored by the pope, and was styled henceforth (instead of Patrician) Emperor and Augustus.250

The new emperor presented to the pope a round table of silver with the picture of Constantinople, and many gifts of gold, and remained in Rome till Easter. The moment or manner of the coronation may have been unexpected by Charles (if we are to believe his word), but it is hardly conceivable that it was not the result of a previous arrangement between him and Leo. Alcuin seems to have aided the scheme. In his view the pope occupied the first, the emperor the second, the king the third degree in the scale of earthly dignities. He sent to Charles from Tours before his coronation a splendid Bible with the inscription: Ad splendorem imperialis potentiae.251

On his return to France Charles compelled all his subjects to take a new oath to him as "Caesar."  He assumed the full title "Serenssimus Augustus a Deo coronatus, magnus et pacificus imperator, Romanum gubernans imperium, qui et per misericordiam Dei rex Francorum et Longobardorum."


Significance of the Act.


The act of coronation was on the part of the pope a final declaration of independence and self-emancipation against the Greek emperor, as the legal ruler of Rome. Charles seems to have felt this, and hence he proposed to unite the two empires by marrying Irene, who had put her son to death and usurped the Greek crown (797). But the same rebellion had been virtually committed before by the pope in sending the keys of the city to Pepin, and by the French king in accepting this token of temporal sovereignty. Public opinion justified the act on the principle that might makes right. The Greek emperor, being unable to maintain his power in Italy and to defend his own subjects, first against the Lombards and then against the Franks, had virtually forfeited his claim.

For the West the event was the re-establishment, on a Teutonic basis, of the old Roman empire, which henceforth, together with the papacy, controlled the history of the middle ages. The pope and the emperor represented the highest dignity and power in church and state. But the pope was the greater and more enduring power of the two. He continued, down to the Reformation, the spiritual ruler of all Europe, and is to this day the ruler of an empire much vaster than that of ancient Rome. He is, in the striking language of Hobbes, "the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof."


The Relation of the Pope and the Emperor.


What was the legal and actual relation between these two sovereignties, and the limits of jurisdiction of each?  This was the struggle of centuries. It involved many problems which could only be settled in the course of events. It was easy enough to distinguish the two in theory by, confining the pope to spiritual, and the emperor to temporal affairs. But on the theocratic theory of the union of church and state the two will and must come into frequent conflict.

The pope, by voluntarily conferring the imperial crown upon Charles, might claim that the empire was his gift, and that the right of crowning implied the right of discrowning. And this right was exercised by popes at a later period, who wielded the secular as well as the spiritual sword and absolved nations of their oath of allegiance. A mosaic picture in the triclinium of Leo III. in the Lateran (from the ninth century) represents St. Peter in glory, bestowing upon Leo kneeling at his right hand the priestly stole, and upon Charles kneeling at his left, the standard of Rome.252  This is the mediaeval hierarchical theory, which derives all power from God through Peter as the head of the church. Gregory VII. compared the church to the sun, the state to the moon who derives her light from the sun. The popes will always maintain the principle of the absolute supremacy of the church over the state, and support or oppose a government—whether it be an empire or a kingdom or a republic—according to the degree of its subserviency to the interests of the hierarchy. The papal Syllabus of 1864 expresses the genuine spirit of the system in irreconcilable conflict with the spirit of modern history and civilization. The Vatican Palace is the richest museum of classical and mediaeval curiosities, and the pope himself, the infallible oracle of two hundred millions of souls, is by far the greatest curiosity in it.

On the other hand Charles, although devotedly attached to the church and the pope, was too absolute a monarch to recognize a sovereignty within his sovereignty. He derived his idea of the theocracy from the Old Testament, and the relation between Moses and Aaron. He understood and exercised his imperial dignity pretty much in the same way as Constantine the Great and Theodosius the Great had done in the Byzantine empire, which was caesaro-papal in principle and practice, and so is its successor, the Russian empire. Charles believed that he was the divinely appointed protector of the church and the regulator of all her external and to some extent also the internal affairs. He called the synods of his empire without asking the pope. He presided at the Council of Frankfort (794), which legislated on matters of doctrine and discipline, condemned the Adoption heresy, agreeably to the pope, and rejected the image worship against the decision of the second oecumenical Council of Nicaea (787) and the declared views of several popes.253  He appointed bishops and abbots as well as counts, and if a vacancy in the papacy, had occurred during the remainder of his life, he would probably have filled it as well as the ordinary bishoprics. The first act after his coronation was to summon and condemn to death for treason those who had attempted to depose the pope. He thus acted as judge in the case. A Council at Mayence in 813 called him in an official document "the pious ruler of the holy church."254

Charles regarded the royal and imperial dignity as the hereditary possession of his house and people, and crowned his son, Louis the Pious, at Aix-la-Chapelle in 813, without consulting the pope or the Romans.255  He himself as a Teuton represented both France and Germany. But with the political separation of the two countries under his successors, the imperial dignity was attached to the German crown. Hence also the designation: the holy German Roman empire.


 § 58. Survey of the History of the Holy Roman Empire.


The readiness with which the Romans responded to the crowning act of Leo proves that the re-establishment of the Western empire was timely. The Holy Roman Empire seemed to be the necessary counterpart of the Holy Roman Church. For many, centuries the nations of Europe had been used to the concentration of all secular power in one head. It is true, several Roman emperors from Nero to Diocletian had persecuted Christianity by fire and sword, but Constantine and his successors had raised the church to dignity and power, and bestowed upon it all the privileges of a state religion. The transfer of the seat of empire from Rome to Constantinople withdrew from the Western church the protection of the secular arm, and exposed Europe to the horrors of barbarian invasion and the chaos of civil wars. The popes were among the chief sufferers, their territory, being again and again overrun and laid waste by the savage Lombards. Hence the instinctive desire for the protecting arm of a new empire, and this could only be expected from the fresh and vigorous Teutonic power which had risen beyond the Alps and Christianized by Roman missionaries. Into this empire "all the life of the ancient world was gathered; out of it all the life of the modern world arose."256


The Empire and the Papacy, The Two Ruling Powers of the Middle Ages.


Henceforward the mediaeval history of Europe is chiefly a history of the papacy and the empire. They were regarded as the two arms of God in governing the church and the world. This twofold government was upon the whole the best training-school of the barbarian for Christian civilization and freedom. The papacy acted as a wholesome check upon military despotism, the empire as a check upon the abuses of priestcraft. Both secured order and unity against the disintegrating tendencies of society; both nourished the great idea of a commonwealth of nations, of a brotherhood of mankind, of a communion of saints. By its connection with Rome, the empire infused new blood into the old nationalities of the South, and transferred the remaining treasures of classical culture and the Roman law to the new nations of the North. The tendency of both was ultimately self-destructive; they fostered, while seeming to oppose, the spirit of ecclesiastical and national independence. The discipline of authority always produces freedom as its legitimate result. The law is a schoolmaster to lead men to the gospel.


Otho the Great.


In the opening chapter of the history of the empire we find it under the control of a master-mind and in friendly alliance with the papacy. Under the weak successors of Charlemagne it dwindled down to a merely nominal existence. But it revived again in Otho I. or the Great (936–973), of the Saxon dynasty. He was master of the pope and defender of the Roman church, and left everywhere the impress of an heroic character, inferior only to that of Charles. Under Henry III. (1039–1056), when the papacy sank lowest, the empire again proved a reforming power. He deposed three rival popes, and elected a worthy, successor. But as the papacy rose from its degradation, it overawed the empire.


Henry IV. and Gregory VII.


Under Henry IV. (1056–1106) and Gregory VII. (1073–1085) the two power; came into the sharpest conflict concerning the right of investiture, or the supreme control in the election of bishops and abbots. The papacy achieved a moral triumph over the empire at Canossa, when the mightiest prince kneeled as a penitent at the feet of the proud successor of Peter (1077); but Henry recovered his manhood and his power, set up an antipope, and Gregory died in exile at Salerno, yet without yielding an inch of his principles and pretensions. The conflict lasted fifty years, and ended with the Concordat of Worms (Sept. 23, 1122), which was a compromise, but with a limitation of the imperial prerogative: the pope secured the right to invest the bishops with the ring and crozier, but the new bishop before his consecration was to receive his temporal estates as a fief of the crown by the touch of the emperor’s sceptre.


The House of Hohenstaufen.


Under the Swabian emperors of the house of Hohenstaufen (1138–1254) the Roman empire reached its highest power in connection with the Crusades, in the palmy days of mediaeval chivalry, poetry and song. They excelled in personal greatness and renown the Saxon and the Salic emperors, but were too much concerned with Italian affairs for the good of Germany. Frederick Barbarossa (Redbeard), during his long reign (1152–1190), was a worthy successor of Charlemagne and Otho the Great. He subdued Northern Italy, quarrelled with pope Alexander III., enthroned two rival popes (Paschal III., and after his death Calixtus III.), but ultimately submitted to Alexander, fell at his feet at Venice, and was embraced by the pope with tears of joy and the kiss of peace (1177). He died at the head of an army of crusaders, while attempting to cross the Cydnus in Cilicia (June 10, 1190), and entered upon his long enchanted sleep in Kyffhäuser till his spirit reappeared to establish a new German empire in 1871.257

Under Innocent III. (1198–1216) the papacy reached the acme of its power, and maintained it till the time of Boniface VIII. (1294–1303). Emperor Frederick II. (1215–1250), Barbarossa’s grandson, was equal to the best of his predecessors in genius and energy, superior to them in culture, but more an Italian than a German, and a skeptic on the subject of religion. He reconquered Jerusalem in the fifth crusade, but cared little for the church, and was put under the ban by pope Gregory IX., who denounced him as a heretic and blasphemer, and compared him to the Apocalyptic beast from the abyss.258  The news of his sudden death was hailed by pope Innocent IV. with the exclamation: "Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad."  His death was the collapse of the house of Hohenstaufen, and for a time also of the Roman empire. His son and successor Conrad IV. ruled but a few years, and his grandson Conradin, a bright and innocent youth of sixteen, was opposed by the pope, and beheaded at Naples in sight of his hereditary kingdom (October 29, 1268).

Italy was at once the paradise and the grave of German ambition.


The German Empire.


After "the great interregnum" when might was right,259 the Swiss count Rudolf of Hapsburg (a castle in the Swiss canton of Aargau) was elected emperor by the seven electors, and crowned at Aachen (1273–1291). He restored peace and order, never visited Italy, escaped the ruinous quarrels with the pope, built up a German kingdom, and laid the foundation of the conservative, orthodox, tenacious, and selfish house of Austria.

The empire continued to live for more than five centuries with varying fortunes, in nominal connection with Rome and at the head of the secular powers in Christendom, but without controlling influence over the fortunes of the papacy and the course of Europe. Occasionally it sent forth a gleam of its universal aim, as under Henry VII., who was crowned in Rome and hailed by Dante as the saviour of Italy, but died of fever (if not of poison administered by a Dominican monk in the sacramental cup) in Tuscany (1313); under Sigismund, the convener and protector of the oecumenical Council at Constance which deposed popes and burned Hus (1414), a much better man than either the emperor or the contemporary popes; under Charles V. (1519–1558), who wore the crown of Spain and Austria as well as of Germany, and on whose dominions the sun never set; and under Joseph II. (1765–1790), who renounced the intolerant policy of his ancestors, unmindful of the pope’s protest, and narrowly escaped greatness.260  But the emperors after Rudolf, with a few exceptions, were no more crowned in Rome, and withdrew from Italy.261  They were chosen at Frankfort by the Seven Electors, three spiritual, and four temporal: the archbishops of Mentz, Treves, and Cologne, the king of Bohemia, and the Electors of the Palatinate, Saxony, and Brandenburg (afterwards enlarged to nine). The competition, however, was confined to a few powerful houses, until in the 15th century the Hapsburgs grasped the crown and held it tenaciously, with one exception, till the dissolution. The Hapsburg emperors always cared more for their hereditary dominions, which they steadily increased by fortunate marriages, than for Germany and the papacy.


The Decline and Fall of the Empire.


Many causes contributed to the gradual downfall of the German empire: the successful revolt of the Swiss mountaineers, the growth of the independent kingdoms of Spain, France, and England, the jealousies of the electors and the minor German princes, the discovery of a new Continent in the West, the invasion of the Turks from the East, the Reformation which divided the German people into two hostile religions, the fearful devastations of the thirty years’ war, the rise of the house of Hohenzollern and the kingdom of Prussia on German soil with the brilliant genius of Frederick II., and the wars growing out of the French Revolution. In its last stages it became a mere shadow, and justified the satirical description (traced to Voltaire), that the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. The last of the emperors, Francis II., in August 6th, 1806, abdicated the elective crown of Germany and substituted for it the hereditary crown of Austria as Francis I. (d. 1835).

Thus the holy Roman empire died in peace at the venerable age of one thousand and six years.


The Empire of Napoleon.


Napoleon, hurled into sudden power by the whirlwind of revolution on the wings of his military genius, aimed at the double glory of a second Caesar and a second Charlemagne, and constructed, by arbitrary force, a huge military empire on the basis of France, with the pope as an obedient paid servant at Paris, but it collapsed on the battle fields of Leipzig and Waterloo, without the hope of a resurrection. "I have not succeeded Louis Quatorze," he said, "but Charlemagne."  He dismissed his wife and married a daughter of the last German and first Austrian emperor; he assumed the Lombard crown at Milan; he made his ill-fated son "King of Rome" in imitation of the German "King of the Romans."  He revoked "the donations which my predecessors, the French emperors have made," and appropriated them to France. "Your holiness," he wrote to Pius VII., who had once addressed him as his "very dear Son in Christ," "is sovereign of Rome, but I am the emperor thereof."  "You are right," he wrote to Cardinal Fesch, his uncle, "that I am Charlemagne, and I ought to be treated as the emperor of the papal court. I shall inform the pope of my intentions in a few words, and if he declines to acquiesce, I shall reduce him to the same condition in which he was before Charlemagne."262  It is reported that he proposed to the pope to reside in Paris with a large salary, and rule the conscience of Europe under the military, supremacy of the emperor, that the pope listened first to his persuasion with the single remark: "Comedian," and then to his threats with the reply: "Tragedian," and turned him his back. The papacy utilized the empire of the uncle and the nephew, as well as it could, and survived them. But the first Napoleon swept away the effete institutions of feudalism, and by his ruthless and scornful treatment of conquered nationalities provoked a powerful revival of these very nationalities which overthrew and buried his own artificial empire. The deepest humiliation of the German nation, and especially of Prussia, was the beginning of its uprising in the war of liberation.


The German Confederation.


The Congress of Vienna erected a temporary substitute for the old empire in the German "Bund" at Frankfort. It was no federal state, but a loose confederacy of 38 sovereign states, or princes rather, without any popular representation; it was a rope of sand, a sham unity, under the leadership of Austria; and Austria shrewdly and selfishly used the petty rivalries and jealousies of the smaller principalities as a means to check the progress of Prussia and to suppress all liberal movements.


The New German Empire.


In the meantime the popular desire for national union, awakened by the war of liberation and a great national literature, made steady progress, and found at last its embodiment in a new German empire with a liberal constitution and a national parliament. But this great result was brought about by great events and achievements under the leadership of Prussia against foreign aggression. The first step was the brilliant victory of Prussia over Austria at Königgrätz, which resulted in the formation of the North German Confederation (1866). The second step was the still more remarkable triumph of united Germany in a war of self-defence against the empire of Napoleon III., which ended in the proclamation of William I. as German emperor by the united wishes of the German princes and peoples in the palace of Louis XIV. at Versailles (1870).

Thus the long dream of the German nation was fulfilled through a series of the most brilliant military and diplomatic victories recorded in modern history, by the combined genius of Bismarck, Moltke, and William, and the valor, discipline, and intelligence of the German army.

Simultaneously with this German movement, Italy under the lead of Cavour and Victor Emmanuel, achieved her national unity, with Rome as the political capital.

But the new German empire is not a continuation or revival of the old. It differs from it in several essential particulars. It is the result of popular national aspiration and of a war of self-defence, not of conquest; it is based on the predominance of Prussia and North Germany, not of Austria and South Germany; it is hereditary, not elective; it is controlled by modern ideas of liberty and progress, not by mediaeval notions and institutions; it is essentially Protestant, and not Roman Catholic; it is a German, not a Roman empire. Its rise is indirectly connected with the simultaneous downfall of the temporal power of the pope, who is the hereditary and unchangeable enemy both of German and Italian unity and freedom. The new empire is independent of the church, and has officially no connection with religion, resembling in this respect the government of the United States; but its Protestant animus appears not only in the hereditary religion of the first emperor, but also in the expulsion of the Jesuits (1872), and the "Culturkampf" against the politico-hierarchical aspirations of the ultramontane papacy. When Pius IX., in a letter to William I. (1873), claimed a sort of jurisdiction over all baptized Christians, the emperor courteously informed the infallible pope that he, with all Protestants, recognized no other mediator between God and man but our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The new German empire will and ought to do full justice to the Catholic church, but "will never go to Canossa."

We pause at the close of a long and weighty chapter in history; we wonder what the next chapter will be.


 § 59. The Papacy and the Empire from the Death of Charlemagne to Nicolas I a.d. 814–858).  Note on the Myth of the Papess Joan.


The power of Charlemagne was personal. Under his weak successors the empire fell to pieces, and the creation of his genius was buried in chaotic confusion; but the idea survived. His son and successor, Louis the Pious, as the Germans and Italians called him, or Louis the Gentle (le débonnaire) in French history (814–840), inherited the piety, and some of the valor and legislative wisdom, but not the genius and energy, of his father. He was a devoted and superstitious servant of the clergy. He began with reforms, he dismissed his father’s concubines and daughters with their paramours from the court, turned the palace into a monastery, and promoted the Scandinavian mission of St. Ansgar. In the progress of his reign, especially after his second marriage to the ambitious Judith, he showed deplorable weakness and allowed his empire to decay, while he wasted his time between monkish exercises and field-sports in the forest of the Ardennes. He unwisely shared his rule with his three sons who soon rebelled against their father and engaged in fraternal wars.

After his death the treaty of Verdun was concluded in 843. By this treaty the empire was divided; Lothair received Italy with the title of emperor, France fell to Charles the Bald, Germany to Louis the German. Thus Charlemagne’s conception of a Western empire that should be commensurate with the Latin church was destroyed, or at least greatly contracted, and the three countries have henceforth a separate history. This was better for the development of nationality. The imperial dignity was afterwards united with the German crown, and continued under this modified form till 1806.

During this civil commotion the papacy had no distinguished representative, but upon the whole profited by it. Some of the popes evaded the imperial sanction of their election. The French clergy forced the gentle Louis to make at Soissons a most humiliating confession of guilt for all the slaughter, pillage, and sacrilege committed during the civil wars, and for bringing the empire to the brink of ruin. Thus the hierarchy assumed control even over the civil misconduct of the sovereign and imposed ecclesiastical penance for ft.


Note. The Myth of Johanna Papissa.


We must make a passing mention of the curious and mysterious myth of papess Johanna, who is said during this period between Leo IV. (847) and Benedict III. (855) to have worn the triple crown for two years and a half. She was a lady of Mayence (her name is variously called Agnes, Gilberta, Johanna, Jutta), studied in disguise philosophy in Athens (where philosophy had long before died out), taught theology in Rome, under the name of Johannes Anglicus, and was elevated to the papal dignity as John VIII., but died in consequence of the discovery of her sex by a sudden confinement in the open street during a solemn procession from the Vatican to the Lateran. According to another tradition she was tied to the hoof of a horse, dragged outside of the city and stoned to death by the people, and the inscription was put on her grave:

"Parce pater patrum papissae edere partum."

The strange story originated in Rome, and was first circulated by the Dominicans and Minorites, and acquired general credit in the 13th and 14th centuries. Pope John XX. (1276) called himself John XXI. In the beginning of the 15th century the bust of this woman-pope was placed alongside with the busts of the other popes at Sienna, and nobody took offence at it. Even Chancellor Gerson used the story as an argument that the church could err in matters of fact. At the Council in Constance it was used against the popes. Torrecremata, the upholder of papal despotism, draws from it the lesson that if the church can stand a woman-pope, she might stand the still greater evil of a heretical pope.

Nevertheless the story is undoubtedly a mere fiction, and is so regarded by nearly all modern historians, Protestant as well as Roman Catholic. It is not mentioned till four hundred years later by Stephen, a French Dominican (who died 1261).263  It was unknown to Photius and the bitter Greek polemics during the ninth and tenth centuries, who would not have missed the opportunity to make use of it as an argument against the papacy. There is no gap in the election of the popes between Leo and Benedict, who, according to contemporary historians, was canonically elected three days after the death of Leo IV. (which occurred July 17th, 855), or at all events in the same month, and consecrated two months after (Sept. 29th). See Jaffé, Regesta, p. 235. The myth was probably an allegory or satire on the monstrous government of women (Theodora and Marozia) over several licentious popes—Sergius III., John X., XI., and XII.—in the tenth century. So Heumann, Schröckh, Gibbon, Neander. The only serious objection to this solution is that the myth would be displaced from the ninth to the tenth century.

Other conjectures are these: The myth of the female pope was a satire on John VIII. for his softness in dealing with Photius (Baronius); the misunderstanding of a fact that some foreign bishop (pontifex) in Rome was really a woman in disguise (Leibnitz); the papess was a widow of Leo IV. (Kist); a misinterpretation of the stella stercoraria (Schmidt); a satirical allegory on the origin and circulation of the false decretals of Isidor (Henke and Gfrörer); an impersonation of the great whore of the Apocalypse, and the popular expression of the belief that the mystery of iniquity was working in the papal court (Baring-Gould).

David Blondel, first destroyed the credit of this mediaeval fiction, in his learned French dissertation on the subject (Amsterdam, 1649). spanheim defended it, and Mosheim credited it much to his discredit as an historian. See the elaborate discussion of Döllinger, Papst-Fabeln des Mittelalters, 2d ed. Munchen, 1863 (Engl. transl. N. Y., 1872, pp. 4–58 and pp. 430–437). Comp. also Bianchi-Giovini, Esame critico degli atti e documenti della papessa Giovanna, Mil. 1845, and the long note of Gieseler, II. 30–32 (N. Y. ed.), which sums up the chief data in the case.


 § 60. The Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals.


I. Sources.


The only older ed. of Pseudo-Isidor is that of Jacob Merlin in the first part of his Collection of General Councils, Paris, 1523, Col., 1530, etc., reprinted in Migne’s Patrol. Tom. CXXX., Paris, 1853.

Far superior is the modem ed. of P. Hinschius: Decretales Pseudo-Isidorianae et Capitula Angilramni. Lips. 1863. The only critical ed, taken from the oldest and best MSS. Comp. his Commentatio de, Collectione Isidori Mercatoris in this ed. pp. xi-ccxxxviii.


II. Literature.


Dav. Blondel: Pseudo-Isidorus et Turrianus vapulantes. Genev. 1628.

F. Knust: De Fontibus et Consilio Pseudo-Isidorianae collectionis. Gött. 1832.

A. Möhler (R.C.): Fragmente aus und uber Isidor, in his "Vermischte Schriften" (ed. by Döllinger, Regensb. 1839), I. 285 sqq.

H. Wasserschleben: Beiträge zur Gesch. der falschen Decret.  Breslau, 1844. Comp. also his art. in Herzog.

C. Jos. Hefele (R.C.): Die pseudo-Isidor. Frage, in the "Tubinger Quartalschrift, "1847.

Gfrörer: Alter, Ursprung, Zweck der Decretalen des falschen Isodorus. Freib. 1848.

Jul. Weizsäcker: Hinkmar und Pseudo-Isidor, in Niedner’s "Zeitschrift fur histor. Theol.," for 1858, and Die pseudo-isid. Frage, in Sybel’s "Hist. Zeitschrift, "1860.

C. von Noorden: Ebo, Hinkmar und Pseudo-Isidor, in Sybel’s "Hist. Zeitschrift," 1862.

Döllinger in Janus, 1869. It appeared in several editions and languages.

Ferd. Walter (R.C.): Lehrbuch des Kirchenrechts aller christl. Confessionen. Bonn (1822), 13th ed. 1861. The same transl. into French, Italian, and Spanish.

J. W. Bickell: Geschichte des Kirchenrechts. Giessen, 1843, 1849.

G. Phillips (R.C.): Kirchenrecht. Regensburg (1845), 3rd ed. 1857 sqq. 6 vols. (till 1864). His Lehrbuch, 1859, P. II. 1862.

Jo. Fr. von Schulte (R.C., since 1870 Old Cath.): Das Katholische Kirchenrecht. Giessen, P. I. 1860. Lehrbuch, 1873. Die Geschichte der Quellen und Literatur des Canonischen Rechts von Gratian bis auf die Gegenwart. Stuttgart, 1875 sqq.3 vols.

Aem. L. Richter: Lehrbuch des kath. und evang. Kirchenrechts. Leipz., sixth ed. by Dove, 1867 (on Pseudo-Isidor, pp. 102–133).

Henry C. Lea: Studies in Church History. Philad. 1869 (p. 43–102 on the False Decretals).

Friedr. Maassen (R.C.): Geschichte der Quellen und d. Literatur des canonischen Rechts im Abendlande. 1st vol., Gratz, 1870.

Comp. also for the whole history the great work of F. C. von Savigny: Geschichte des Röm. Rechts im Mittelalter. Heidelb. 2nd ed. 1834–’51, 7 vols.

See also the Lit. in vol. II. § 67.


During the chaotic confusion under the Carolingians, in the middle of the ninth century, a mysterious book made its appearance, which gave legal expression to the popular opinion of the papacy, raised and strengthened its power more than any other agency, and forms to a large extent the basis of the canon law of the church of Rome. This is a collection of ecclesiastical laws under the false name of bishop Isidor of Seville (died 636), hence called the "Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals."264  He was the reputed (though not the real) author of an earlier collection, based upon that of the Roman abbot, Dionysius Exiguus, in the sixth century, and used as the law-book of the church in Spain, hence called the "Hispana."  In these earlier collections the letters and decrees (Epistolae Decretales) of the popes from the time of Siricius (384) occupy a prominent place.265  A decretal in the canonical sense is an authoritative rescript of a pope in reply to some question, while a decree is a papal ordinance enacted with the advice of the Cardinals, without a previous inquiry. A canon is a law ordained by a general or provincial synod. A dogma is an ecclesiastical law relating to doctrine. The earliest decretals had moral rather than legislative force. But as the questions and appeals to the pope multiplied, the papal answers grew in authority. Fictitious documents, canons, and decretals were nothing new; but the Pseudo-Isidorian collection is the most colossal and effective fraud known in the history of ecclesiastical literature.

1. The contents of the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals. The book is divided into three parts. The first part contains fifty Apostolical Canons from the collection of Dionysius, sixty spurious decretals of the Roman bishops from Clement (d. 101) to Melchiades (d. 314). The second part comprehends the forged document of the donation of Constantine, some tracts concerning the Council of Nicaea, and the canons of the Greek, African, Gallic, and Spanish Councils down to 683, from the Spanish collection. The third part, after a preface copied from the Hispana, gives in chronological order the decretals of the popes from Sylvester (d. 335) to Gregory II. (d. 731), among which thirty-five are forged, including all before Damasus; but the genuine letters also, which are taken from the Isidorian collection, contain interpolations. In many editions the Capitula Angilramni are appended.

All these documents make up a manual of orthodox doctrine and clerical discipline. They give dogmatic decisions against heresies, especially Arianism (which lingered long in Spain), and directions on worship, the sacraments, feasts and fasts, sacred rites and costumes, the consecration of churches, church property, and especially on church polity. The work breathes throughout the spirit of churchly and priestly piety and reverence.

2. The sacerdotal system. Pseudo-Isidor advocates the papal theocracy. The clergy is a divinely instituted, consecrated, and inviolable caste, mediating between God and the people, as in the Jewish dispensation. The priests are the "familiares Dei," the "spirituales," the laity the "carnales."  He who sins against them sins against God. They are subject to no earthly tribunal, and responsible to God alone, who appointed them judges of men. The privileges of the priesthood culminate in the episcopal dignity, and the episcopal dignity culminates in the papacy. The cathedra Petri is the fountain of all power. Without the consent of the pope no bishop can be deposed, no council be convened. He is the ultimate umpire of all controversy, and from him there is no appeal. He is often called "episcopus universalis" notwithstanding the protest of Gregory I.

3. The aim of Pseudo-Isidor is, by such a collection of authoritative decisions to protect the clergy against the secular power and against moral degeneracy. The power of the metropolitans is rather lowered in order to secure to the pope the definitive sentence in the trials of bishops. But it is manifestly wrong if older writers have put the chief aim of the work in the elevation of the papacy. The papacy appears rather as a means for the protection of episcopacy in its conflict with the civil government. It is the supreme guarantee of the rights of the bishops.

4. The genuineness of Pseudo-Isidor was not doubted during the middle ages (Hincmar only denied the legal application to the French church), but is now universally given up by Roman Catholic as well as Protestant historians.

The forgery is apparent. It is inconceivable that Dionysius Exiguus, who lived in Rome, should have been ignorant of such a large number of papal letters. The collection moreover is full of anachronisms: Roman bishops of the second and third centuries write in the Frankish Latin of the ninth century on doctrinal topics in the spirit of the post-Nicene orthodoxy and on mediaeval relations in church and state; they quote the Bible after the; version of Jerome as amended under Charlemagne; Victor addresses Theophilus of Alexandria, who lived two hundred years later, on the paschal controversies of the second century.266

The Donation of Constantine which is incorporated in this collection, is an older forgery, and exists also in several Greek texts. It affirms that Constantine, when he was baptized by pope Sylvester, a.d. 324 (he was not baptized till 337, by the Arian bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia), presented him with the Lateran palace and all imperial insignia, together with the Roman and Italian territory.267  The object of this forgery was to antedate by five centuries the temporal power of the papacy, which rests on the donations of Pepin and Charlemagne.268  The only foundation in fact is the donation of the Lateran palace, which was originally the palace of the Lateran family, then of the emperors, and last of the popes. The wife of Constantine, Fausta, resided in it, and on the transfer of the seat of empire to Constantinople, he left it to Sylvester, as the chief of the Roman clergy and nobility. Hence it contains to this day the pontifical throne with the inscription: "Haec est papalis sedes et pontificalis."  There the pope takes possession of the see of Rome. But the whole history of Constantine and his successors shows conclusively that they had no idea of transferring any part of their temporal sovereignty to the Roman pontiff.

5. The authorship must be assigned to some ecclesiastic of the Frankish church, probably of the diocese of Rheims, between 847 and 865 (or 857), but scholars differ as to the writer.269  Pseudo-Isidor literally quotes passages from a Paris Council of 829, and agrees in part with the collection of Benedictus Levita, completed in 847; on the other hand he is first quoted by a French Synod at Chiersy in 857, and then by Hincmar of Rheims repeatedly since 859. All the manuscripts are of French origin. The complaints of ecclesiastical disorders, depositions of bishops without trial, frivolous divorces, frequent sacrilege, suit best the period of the civil wars among the grandsons of Charlemagne. In Rome the Decretals were first known and quoted in 865 by pope Nicolaus I.270

From the same period and of the same spirit are several collections of Capitula or Capitularia, i.e., of royal ecclesiastical ordinances which under the Carolingians took the place of synodical decisions. Among these we mention the collection of Ansegis, abbot of Fontenelles (827), of Benedictus Levita of Mayence (847), and the Capitula Angilramni, falsely ascribed to bishop Angilramnus of Metz (d. 701).

6. Significance of Pseudo-Isidor. It consists not so much in the novelty of the views and claims of the mediaeval priesthood, but in tracing them back from the ninth to the third and second centuries and stamping them with the authority of antiquity. Some of the leading principles had indeed been already asserted in the letters of Leo I. and other documents of the fifth century, yea the papal animus may be traced to Victor in the second century and to the Judaizing opponents of St. Paul. But in this collection the entire hierarchical and sacerdotal system, which was the growth of several centuries, appears as something complete and unchangeable from the very beginning. We have a parallel phenomenon in the Apostolic Constitutions and Canons which gather into one whole the ecclesiastical decisions of the first three centuries, and trace them directly to the apostles or their disciple, Clement of Rome.

Pseudo-Isidorus was no doubt a sincere believer in the hierarchical system; nevertheless his Collection is to a large extent a conscious high church fraud, and must as such be traced to the father of lies. It belongs to the Satanic element in the history of the Christian hierarchy, which has as little escaped temptation and contamination as the Jewish hierarchy.


 § 61. Nicolas I., April, 858-Nov. 13, 867.


I. The Epistles of Nicolas I. in Mansi’s Conc. XV., and in Migne’s Patrol. Tom. CXIX. Comp. also Jaffé, Regesta, pp. 237–254.

Hincmari (Rhemensis Archiepiscopi) Oper. Omnia. In Migne’s Patrol. Tom. 125 and 126. An older ed. by J. Sirmond, Par. 1645, 2 vols. fol.

Hugo Laemmer: Nikolaus I. und die Byzantinische Staatskirche seiner Zeit. Berlin, 1857.

A. Thiel: De Nicolao Papa. Comment. duae Hist. canonicae. Brunzberg, 1859.

Van Noorden: Hincmar, Erzbischof von Rheims. Bonn, 1863.

Hergenröther (R.C. Prof at Wurzburg, now Cardinal): Photius. Regensburg, 1867–1869, 3 vols.

Comp. Baxmann II. 1–29; Milman, Book V. ch.4 (vol. III. 24–46); Hefele, Conciliengesch. vol. IV., (2nd ed.), 228 sqq; and other works quoted § 48.


By a remarkable coincidence the publication of the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals synchronized with the appearance of a pope who had the ability and opportunity to carry the principles of the Decretals into practical effect, and the good fortune to do it in the service of justice and virtue. So long as the usurpation of divine power was used against oppression and vice, it commanded veneration and obedience, and did more good than harm. It was only the pope who in those days could claim a superior authority in dealing with haughty and oppressive metropolitans, synods, kings and emperors.

Nicolas I. is the greatest pope, we may say the only great pope between Gregory I. and Gregory VII. He stands between them as one of three peaks of a lofty mountain, separated from the lower peak by a plane, and from the higher peak by a deep valley. He appeared to his younger contemporaries as a "new Elijah," who ruled the world like a sovereign of divine appointment, terrible to the evil-doer whether prince or priest, yet mild to the good and obedient. He was elected less by the influence of the clergy than of the emperor Louis II., and consecrated in his presence; he lived with him on terms of friendship, and was treated in turn with great deference to his papal dignity. He anticipated Hildebrand in the lofty conception of his office; and his energy and boldness of character corresponded with it. The pope was in his view the divinely appointed superintendent of the whole church for the maintenance of order, discipline and righteousness, and the punishment of wrong and vice, with the aid of the bishops as his executive organs. He assumed an imperious tone towards the Carolingians. He regarded the imperial crown a grant of the vicar of St. Peter for the protection of Christians against infidels. The empire descended to Louis by hereditary right, but was confirmed by the authority of the apostolic see.

The pontificate of Nicolas was marked by three important events: the controversy with Photius, the prohibition of the divorce of King Lothair, and the humiliation of archbishop Hincmar. In the first he failed, in the second and third he achieved a moral triumph.


Nicolas and Photius.


Ignatius, patriarch of Constantinople, of imperial descent and of austere ascetic virtue, was unjustly deposed and banished by the emperor Michael III. for rebuking the immorality of Caesar Bardas, but he refused to resign. Photius, the greatest scholar of his age, at home in almost every branch of knowledge and letters, was elected his successor, though merely a layman, and in six days passed through the inferior orders to the patriarchal dignity (858). The two parties engaged in an unrelenting warfare, and excommunicated each other. Photius was the first to appeal to the Roman pontiff. Nicolas, instead of acting as mediator, assumed the air of judge, and sent delegates to Constantinople to investigate the case on the spot. They were imprisoned and bribed to declare for Photius; but the pope annulled their action at a synod in Rome, and decided in favor of Ignatius (863). Photius in turn pronounced sentence of condemnation on the pope and, in his Encyclical Letter, gave classical expression to the objections of the Greek church against the Latin (867). The controversy resulted in the permanent alienation of the two churches. It was the last instance of an official interference of a pope in the affairs of the Eastern church.


Nicolas and Lothair.


Lothair II., king of Lorraine and the second son of the emperor Lothair, maltreated and at last divorced his wife, Teutberga of Burgundy, and married his mistress, Walrada, who appeared publicly in all the array and splendor of a queen. Nicolas, being appealed to by the injured lady, defended fearlessly the sacredness of matrimony; he annulled the decisions of synods, and deposed the archbishops of Cologne and Treves for conniving at the immorality of their sovereign. He threatened the king with immediate excommunication if he did not dismiss the concubine and receive the lawful wife. He even refused to yield when Teutberga, probably under compulsion, asked him to grant a divorce. Lothair, after many equivocations, yielded at last (865). It is unnecessary to enter into the complications and disgusting details of this controversy.


Nicolas and Hincmar.


In his controversy with Hincmar, Nicolas was a protector of the bishops and lower clergy against the tyranny of metropolitans. Hincmar, archbishop of Rheims, was the most powerful prelate of France, and a representative of the principle of Gallican independence. He was energetic, but ambitious and overbearing. He came three times in conflict with the pope on the question of jurisdiction. The principal case is that of Rothad, bishop of Soissons, one of his oldest suffragans, whom he deposed without sufficient reason and put into prison, with the aid of Charles the Bald (862). The pope sent his legate "from the side," Arsenius, to Charles, and demanded the restoration of the bishop. He argued from the canons of the Council of Sardica that the case must be decided by Rome even if Rothad had not appealed to him. He enlisted the sympathies of the bishops by reminding them that they might suffer similar injustice from their metropolitan, and that their only refuge was in the common protection of the Roman see. Charles desired to cancel the process, but Nicolas would not listen to it. He called Rothad to Rome, reinstated him solemnly in the church of St. Maria Maggiore, and sent him back in triumph to France (864)271 Hincmar murmured, but yielded to superior power.272

In this controversy Nicolas made use of the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals, a copy of which came into his hands probably through Rotbad. He thus gave them the papal sanction; yet he must have known that a large portion of this forged collection, though claiming to proceed from early popes, did not exist in the papal archives. Hincmar protested against the validity of the new decretals and their application to France, and the protest lingered for centuries in the Gallican liberties till they were finally buried in the papal absolutism of the Vatican Council of 1870.


 § 62. Hadrian II. and John VIII a.d. 867 to 882.


Mansi: Conc. Tom. XV.–XVII.

Migne: Patrol. Lat. Tom. CXXII. 1245 sqq. (Hadrian II.); Tom. CXXVI. 647 sqq. (John VIII.); also Tom. CXXIX., pp. 823 sqq., and 1054 sqq., which contain the writings of Auxilius and Vulgarius, concerning pope Formosus.

Baronius: Annal. ad ann. 867–882.

Jaffé: Regesta, pp. 254–292.

Milman: Lat. Christianity, Book V., chs.5 and 6.

Gfrörer: Allg. Kirchengesch., Bd. III. Abth. 2, pp. 962 sqq.

Baxmann: Politik der Päpste, II. 29–57.


For nearly two hundred years, from Nicolas to Hildebrand (867–1049), the papal chair was filled, with very few exceptions, by ordinary and even unworthy occupants.

 Hadrian II. (867–872) and John VIII. (872–882) defended the papal power with the same zeal as Nicolas, but with less ability, dignity, and success, and not so much in the interests of morality as for self-aggrandizement. They interfered with the political quarrels of the Carolingians, and claimed the right of disposing royal and imperial crowns.

Hadrian was already seventy-five years of age, and well known for great benevolence, when he ascended the throne (he was born in 792). He inherited from Nicolas the controversies with Photius, Lothair, and Hincmar of Rheims, but was repeatedly rebuffed. He suffered also a personal humiliation on account of a curious domestic tragedy. He had been previously married, and his wife (Stephania) was still living at the time of his elevation. Eleutherius, a son of bishop Arsenius (the legate of Nicolas), carried away the pope’s daughter (an old maid of forty years, who was engaged to another man), fled to the emperor Louis, and, when threatened with punishment, murdered both the pope’s wife and daughter. He was condemned to death.

This affair might have warned the popes to have nothing to do with women; but it was succeeded by worse scenes.

John VIII. was an energetic, shrewd, passionate, and intriguing prelate, meddled with all the affairs of Christendom from Bulgaria to France and Spain, crowned two insignificant Carolingian emperors (Charles the Bald, 875, and Charles the Fat, 881), dealt very freely in anathemas, was much disturbed by the invasion of the Saracens, and is said to have been killed by a relative who coveted the papal crown and treasure. The best thing he did was the declaration, in the Bulgarian quarrel with the patriarch of Constantinople, that the Holy Spirit had created other languages for worship besides Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, although he qualified it afterwards by saying that Greek and Latin were the only proper organs for the celebration of the mass, while barbarian tongues such as the Slavonic, may be good enough for preaching.

His violent end was the beginning of a long interregnum of violence. The close of the ninth century gave a foretaste of the greater troubles of the tenth. After the downfall of the Carolingian dynasty the popes were more and more involved in the political quarrels and distractions of the Italian princes. The dukes Berengar of Friuli (888–924), and Guido of Spoleto (889–894), two remote descendants of Charlemagne through a female branch, contended for the kingdom of Italy and the imperial crown, and filled alternately the papal chair according to their success in the conflict. The Italians liked to have two masters, that they might play off one against the other. Guido was crowned emperor by Stephen VI. (V.) in February, 891, and was followed by his son, Lambert, in 894, who was also crowned. Formosus, bishop of Portus, whom John VIII. had pursued with bitter animosity, was after varying fortunes raised to the papal chair, and gave the imperial crown first to Lambert, but afterwards to the victorious Arnulf of Carinthia, in 896. He roused the revenge of Lambert, and died of violence. His second successor and bitter enemy, Stephen VII. (VI.), a creature of the party of Lambert, caused his corpse to be exhumed, clad in pontifical robes, arraigned in a mock trial, condemned and deposed, stripped of the ornaments, fearfully mutilated, decapitated, and thrown into the Tiber. But the party of Berengar again obtained the ascendency; Stephen VII. was thrown into prison and strangled (897). This was regarded as a just punishment for his conduct towards Formosus. John IX. restored the character of Formosus. He died in 900, and was followed by Benedict IV., of the Lambertine or Spoletan party, and reigned for the now unusual term of three years and a half.273


 § 63. The Degradation of the Papacy in the Tenth Century.




Migne’s Patrol. Lat. Tom. 131–142. These vols. contain the documents and works from Pope John IX.–Gregory VI.

Liudprandus (Episcopus Cremonensis, d. 972): Antapodoseos, seu Rerum per Europam gestarum libri VI. From a.d. 887–950. Reprinted in Pertz: Monum. Germ. III. 269–272; and in Migne: Patrol. Tom. CXXXVI. 769 sqq. By the same: Historia Ottonis, sive de rebus gestis Ottonis Magni. From a.d. 960–964. In Pertz: Monum. III. 340–346; in Migne CXXXVI. 897 sqq. Comp. Koepke: De Liudprandi vita et scriptis, Berol., 1842; Wattenbach: Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen, and Giesebrecht, l.c. I. p. 779. Liudprand or Liutprand (Liuzo or Liuso), one of the chief authorities on the history of the 10th century, was a Lombard by birth, well educated, travelled in the East and in Germany, accompanied Otho I. to Rome, 962, was appointed by him bishop of Cremona, served as his interpreter at the Roman Council of 964, and was again in Rome 965. He was also sent on an embassy to Constantinople. He describes the wretched condition of the papacy as an eye-witness. His Antapodosis or Retribution (written between 958 and 962) is specially directed against king Berengar and queen Willa, whom he hated. His work on Otho treats of the contemporary events in which he was one of the actors. He was fond of scandal, but is considered reliable in most of his facts.

Flodoardus (Canonicus Remensis, d. 966): Historia Remensis; Annales; Opuscula metrica, in Migne, Tom. CXXXV.

Atto (Episcopus Vercellensis, d. 960): De presauris ecclesiasticis; Epistolae, and other books, in Migne, Tom. CXXXV.

Jaffé: Regesta, pp. 307–325.

Other sources relating more to the political history of the tenth century are indicated by Giesebrecht, I. 817, 820, 836.


Baronius: Annales ad ann. 900–963.

V. E. Löscher.: Historie des röm. Hurenregiments. Leipzig, 1707. (2nd ed. with another title, 1725.)

Constantin Höfler (R.C.): Die deutschen Päpste. Regensburg, 1839, 2 vols.

E. Dummler: Auxilius und Vulgarius. Quellen und Forschungenzur Geschichte des Papstthums im Anfang des zehnten Jahrhunderts. Leipz. 1866. The writings of Auxilius and Vulgarius are in Migne’s Patrol., Tom. CXXIX.

C. Jos. Von Hefele (Bishop of Rottenburg): Die Päpste und Kaiser in den trubsten Zeiten der Kirche, in his "Beiträge zur Kirchengesch," etc., vol. I. 27–278. Also his Conciliengeschichte, IV. 571–660 (2d ed.).

Milman: Lat. Chr.  bk. 5, chs. 11–14. Giesebrecht: Gesch. der deutschen Kaiserzeit., I. 343 sqq. Gfrörer: III. 3, 1133–1275. Baxmann: II. 58–125. Gregorovius, Vol. III. Von Reumont, Vol. II.


The tenth century is the darkest of the dark ages, a century of ignorance and superstition, anarchy and crime in church and state. The first half of the eleventh century was little better. The dissolution of the world seemed to be nigh at hand. Serious men looked forward to the terrible day of judgment at the close of the first millennium of the Christian era, neglected their secular business, and inscribed donations of estates and other gifts to the church with the significant phrase "appropinquante mundi termino."

The demoralization began in the state, reached the church, and culminated in the papacy. The reorganization of society took the same course. No church or sect in Christendom ever sank so low as the Latin church in the tenth century. The papacy, like the old Roman god Janus, has two faces, one Christian, one antichristian, one friendly and benevolent, one fiendish and malignant. In this period, it shows almost exclusively the antichristian face. It is an unpleasant task for the historian to expose these shocking corruptions; but it is necessary for the understanding of the reformation that followed. The truth must be told, with its wholesome lessons of humiliation and encouragement. No system of doctrine or government can save the church from decline and decay. Human nature is capable of satanic wickedness. Antichrist steals into the very temple of God, and often wears the priestly robes. But God is never absent from history, and His overruling wisdom always at last brings good out of evil. Even in this midnight darkness the stars were shining in the firmament; and even then, as in the days of Elijah the prophet, there were thousands who had not bowed their knees to Baal. Some convents resisted the tide of corruption, and were quiet retreats for nobles and kings disgusted with the vanities of the world, and anxious to prepare themselves for the day of account. Nilus, Romuald, and the monks of Cluny raised their mighty voice against wickedness in high places. Synods likewise deplored the immorality of the clergy and laity, and made efforts to restore discipline. The chaotic confusion of the tenth century, like the migration of nations in the fifth, proved to be only the throe and anguish of a new birth. It was followed first by the restoration of the empire under Otho the Great, and then by the reform of the papacy under Hildebrand.


The Political Disorder.


In the semi-barbarous state of society during the middle ages, a strong central power was needed in church and state to keep order. Charlemagne was in advance of his times, and his structure rested on no solid foundation. His successors had neither his talents nor his energy, and sank almost as low as the Merovingians in incapacity and debauchery. The popular contempt in which they were held was expressed in such epithets as "the Bald," "the Fat," "the Stammerer," "the Simple," "the Lazy," "the Child."  Under their misrule the foundations of law and discipline gave way. Europe was threatened with a new flood of heathen barbarism. The Norman pirates from Denmark and Norway infested the coasts of Germany and France, burned cities and villages, carried off captives, followed in their light boats which they could carry on their shoulders, the course of the great rivers into the interior; they sacked Hamburg, Cologne, Treves, Rouen, and stabled their horses in Charlemagne’s cathedral at Aix; they invaded England, and were the terror of all Europe until they accepted Christianity, settled down in Normandy, and infused fresh blood into the French and English people. In the South, the Saracens, crossing from Africa, took possession of Sicily and Southern Italy; they are described by pope John VIII. as Hagarenes, as children of fornication and wrath, as an army of locusts, turning the land into a wilderness. From the East, the pagan Hungarians or Magyars invaded Germany and Italy like hordes of wild beasts, but they were defeated at last by Henry the Fowler and Otho the Great, and after their conversion to Christianity under their saintly monarch Stephen (997–1068), they became a wall of defence against the progress of the Turks.

Within the limits of nominal Christendom, the kings and nobles quarreled among themselves, oppressed the people, and distributed bishoprics and abbeys among their favorites, or pocketed the income. The metropolitans oppressed the bishops, the bishops the priests, and the priests the laity. Bands of robbers roamed over the country and defied punishment. Might was right. Charles the Fat was deposed by his vassals, and died in misery, begging his bread (888). His successor, Arnulf of Carinthia, the last of the Carolingian line of emperors (though of illegitimate birth), wielded a victorious sword over the Normans (891) and the new kingdom of Moravia (894), but fell into trouble, died of Italian poison, and left the crown of Germany to his only legitimate son, Louis the Child (899–911), who was ruled by Hatto, archbishop of Mayence. This prelate figures in the popular legend of the "Mouse-Tower" (on an island in the Rhine, opposite Bingen), where a swarm of mice picked his bones and "gnawed the flesh from every limb," because he had shut up and starved to death a number of hungry beggars. But documentary history shows him in a more favorable light. Louis died before attaining to manhood, and with him the German line of the Carolingians (911). The last shadow of an emperor in Italy, Berengar, who had been crowned in St. Peter’s, died by the dagger of an assassin (924). The empire remained vacant for nearly forty years, until Otho, a descendant of the Saxon duke Widukind, whom Charlemagne had conquered, raised it to a new life.

In France, the Carolingian dynasty lingered nearly a century longer, till it found an inglorious end in a fifth Louis called the Lazy ("le Fainéant"), and Count Hugh Capet became the founder of the Capetian dynasty, based on the principle of hereditary succession (987). He and his son Robert received the crown of France not from the pope, but from the archbishop of Rheims.

Italy was invaded by Hungarians and Saracens, and distracted by war between rival kings and petty princes struggling for aggrandizement. The bishops and nobles were alike corrupt, and the whole country was a moral wilderness.274


The Demoralization of the Papacy.


The political disorder of Europe affected the church and paralyzed its efforts for good. The papacy itself lost all independence and dignity, and became the prey of avarice, violence, and intrigue, a veritable synagogue of Satan. It was dragged through the quagmire of the darkest crimes, and would have perished in utter disgrace had not Providence saved it for better times. Pope followed pope in rapid succession, and most of them ended their career in deposition, prison, and murder. The rich and powerful marquises of Tuscany and the Counts of Tusculum acquired control over the city of Rome and the papacy for more than half a century. And what is worse (incredibile, attamen verum), three bold and energetic women of the highest rank and lowest character, Theodora the elder (the wife or widow of a Roman senator), and her two daughters, Marozia and Theodora, filled the chair of St. Peter with their paramours and bastards. These Roman Amazons combined with the fatal charms of personal beauty and wealth, a rare capacity for intrigue, and a burning lust for power and pleasure. They had the diabolical ambition to surpass their sex as much in boldness and badness as St. Paula and St. Eustachium in the days of Jerome had excelled in virtue and saintliness. They turned the church of St. Peter into a den of robbers, and the residence of his successors into a harem. And they gloried in their shame. Hence this infamous period is called the papal Pornocracy or Hetaerocracy.275

Some popes of this period were almost as bad as the worst emperors of heathen Rome, and far less excusable.

Sergius III., the lover of Marozia (904–911), opened the shameful succession. Under the protection of a force of Tuscan soldiers he appeared in Rome, deposed Christopher who had just deposed Leo V., took possession of the papal throne, and soiled it with every vice; but he deserves credit for restoring the venerable church of the Lateran, which had been destroyed by an earthquake in 896 and robbed of invaluable treasures.276

After the short reign of two other popes, John X., archbishop of Ravenna, was elected, contrary to all canons, in obedience to the will of Theodora, for the more convenient gratification of her passion (914–928).277  He was a man of military ability and daring, placed himself at the head of an army—the first warrior among the popes—and defeated the Saracens. He then announced the victory in the tone of a general. He then engaged in a fierce contest for power with Marozia and her lover or husband, the Marquis Alberic I. Unwilling to yield any of her secular power over Rome, Marozia seized the Castle of St. Angelo, had John cast into prison and smothered to death, and raised three of her creatures, Leo VI., Stephen VII. (VIII.), and at last John XI, her own (bastard) son of only twenty-one years, successively to the papal chair (928–936).278

After the murder of Alberic I. (about 926), Marozia, who called herself Senatrix and Patricia, offered her hand and as much of her love as she could spare from her numerous paramours, to Guido, Markgrave of Tuscany, who eagerly accepted the prize; and after his death she married king Hugo of Italy, the step-brother of her late husband (932); he hoped to gain the imperial crown, but he was soon expelled from Rome by a rebellion excited by her own son Alberic II., who took offence at his overbearing conduct for slapping him in the face.279  She now disappears from the stage, and probably died in a convent. Her son, the second Alberic, was raised by the Romans to the dignity of Consul, and ruled Rome and the papacy from the Castle of St. Angelo for twenty-two years with great ability as a despot under the forms of a republic (932–954). After the death of his brother, John XI. (936), he appointed four insignificant pontiffs, and restricted them to the performance of their religious duties.


John XII.


On the death of Alberic in 954, his son Octavian, the grandson of Marozia, inherited the secular government of Rome, and was elected pope when only eighteen years of age. He thus united a double supremacy. He retained his name Octavian as civil ruler, but assumed, as pope, the name John XII., either by compulsion of the clergy and people, or because he wished to secure more license by keeping the two dignities distinct. This is the first example of such a change of name, and it was followed by his successors. He completely sunk his spiritual in his secular character, appeared in military dress, and neglected the duties of the papal office, though he surrendered none of its claims.

 John XII. disgraced the tiara for eight years (955–963). He was one of the most immoral and wicked popes, ranking with Benedict IX., John XXIII., and Alexander VI. He was charged by a Roman Synod, no one contradicting, with almost every crime of which depraved human nature is capable, and deposed as a monster of iniquity.280


 § 64. The Interference of Otho the Great.


Comp., besides the works quoted in § 63, Floss: Die Papstwahl unter den Ottonen. Freiburg, 1858, and Köpke and Dummler: Otto der Grosse. Leipzig, 1876.


From this state of infamy the papacy was rescued for a brief time by the interference of Otho I., justly called the Great (936973). He had subdued the Danes, the Slavonians, and the Hungarians, converted the barbarians on the frontier, established order and restored the Carolingian empire. He was called by the pope himself and several Italian princes for protection against the oppression of king Berengar II. (or the Younger, who was crowned in 950, and died in exile, 966). He crossed the Alps, and was anointed Roman emperor by John XII. in 962. He promised to return to the holy see all the lost territories granted by Pepin and Charlemagne, and received in turn from the pope and the Romans the oath of allegiance on the sepulchre of St. Peter.

Hereafter the imperial crown of Rome was always held by the German nation, but the legal assumption of the titles of Emperor and Augustus depended on the act of coronation by the pope.

After the departure of Otho the perfidious pope, unwilling to obey a superior master, rebelled and entered into conspiracy with his enemies. The emperor returned to Rome, convened a Synod of Italian and German bishops, which indignantly deposed John XII. in his absence, on the ground of most notorious crimes, yet without a regular trial (963).281

The emperor and the Synod elected a respectable layman, the chief secretary of the Roman see, in his place. He was hurriedly promoted through the orders of reader, subdeacon, deacon, priest and bishop, and consecrated as Leo VIII., but not recognized by the strictly hierarchical party, because he surrendered the freedom of the papacy to the empire. The Romans swore that they would never elect a pope again without the emperor’s consent. Leo confirmed this in a formal document.282

The anti-imperial party readmitted John XII., who took cruel revenge of his enemies, but was suddenly struck down in his sins by a violent death. Then they elected an anti-pope, Benedict V., but he himself begged pardon for his usurpation when the emperor reappeared, was divested of the papal robes, degraded to the order of deacon, and banished to Germany. Leo VIII. died in April, 965, after a short pontificate of sixteen months.

The bishop of Narni was unanimously elected his successor as John XIII. (965–972) by the Roman clergy and people, after first consulting the will of the emperor. He crowned Otho II. emperor of the Romans (973–983). He was expelled by the Romans, but reinstated by Otho, who punished the rebellious city with terrible severity.

Thus the papacy was morally saved, but at the expense of its independence or rather it had exchanged its domestic bondage for a foreign bondage. Otho restored to it its former dominions which it had lost during the Italian disturbances, but he regarded the pope and the Romans as his subjects, who owed him the same temporal allegiance as the Germans and Lombards.

It would have been far better for Germany and Italy if they had never meddled with each other. The Italians, especially the Romans, feared the German army, but hated the Germans as Northern semi-barbarians, and shook off their yoke as soon as they had a chance.283  The Germans suspected the Italians for dishonesty and trickery, were always in danger of fever and poison, and lost armies and millions of treasure without any return of profit or even military glory.284  The two nations were always jealous of each other, and have only recently become friends, on the basis of mutual independence and non-interference.


Protest Against Papal Corruption.


The shocking immoralities of the popes called forth strong protests, though they did not shake the faith in the institution itself. A Gallican Synod deposed archbishop Arnulf of Rheims as a traitor to king Hugo Capet, without waiting for an answer from the pope, and without caring for the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals (991). The leading spirit of the Synod, Arnulf, bishop of Orleans, made the following bold declaration against the prostitution of the papal office: "Looking at the actual state of the papacy, what do we behold?  John [XII.] called Octavian, wallowing in the sty of filthy concupiscence, conspiring against the sovereign whom he had himself recently crowned; then Leo [VIII.] the neophyte, chased from the city by this Octavian; and that monster himself, after the commission of many murders and cruelties, dying by the hand of an assassin. Next we see the deacon Benedict, though freely elected by the Romans, carried away captive into the wilds of Germany by the new Caesar [Otho I.] and his pope Leo. Then a second Caesar [Otho II.], greater in arts and arms than the first [?], succeeds; and in his absence Boniface, a very monster of iniquity, reeking with the blood of his predecessor, mounts the throne of Peter. True, he is expelled and condemned; but only to return again, and redden his hands with the blood of the holy bishop John [XIV.]. Are there, indeed, any bold enough to maintain that the priests of the Lord over all the world are to take their law from monsters of guilt like these-men branded with ignominy, illiterate men, and ignorant alike of things human and divine?  If, holy fathers, we be bound to weigh in the balance the lives, the morals, and the attainments of the meanest candidate for the sacerdotal office, how much more ought we to look to the fitness of him who aspires to be the lord and master of all priests!  Yet how would it fare with us, if it should happen that the man the most deficient in all these virtues, one so abject as not to be worthy of the lowest place among the priesthood, should be chosen to fill the highest place of all?  What would you say of such a one, when you behold him sitting upon the throne glittering in purple and gold?  Must he not be the Antichrist, sitting in the temple of God, and showing himself as God?’  Verily such a one lacketh both wisdom and charity; he standeth in the temple as an image, as an idol, from which as from dead marble you would seek counsel.285

"But the Church of God is not subject to a wicked pope; nor even absolutely, and on all occasions, to a good one. Let us rather in our difficulties resort to our brethren of Belgium and Germany than to that city, where all things are venal, where judgment and justice are bartered for gold. Let us imitate the great church of Africa, which, in reply to the pretensions of the Roman pontiff, deemed it inconceivable that the Lord should have invested any one person with his own plenary prerogative of judicature, and yet have denied it to the great congregations of his priests assembled in council in different parts of the world. If it be true, as we are informed by, common report, that there is in Rome scarcely a man acquainted with letters,—without which, as it is written, one may scarcely be a doorkeeper in the house of God,—with what face may he who hath himself learnt nothing set himself up for a teacher of others?  In the simple priest ignorance is bad enough; but in the high priest of Rome,—in him to whom it is given to pass in review the faith, the lives, the morals, the discipline, of the whole body of the priesthood, yea, of the universal church, ignorance is in nowise to be tolerated .... Why should he not be subject in judgment to those who, though lowest in place, are his superiors in virtue and in wisdom?  Yea, not even he, the prince of the apostles, declined the rebuke of Paul, though his inferior in place, and, saith the great pope Gregory [I.], ’if a bishop be in fault, I know not any one such who is not subject to the holy see; but if faultless, let every one understand that he is the equal of the Roman pontiff himself, and as well qualified as he to give judgment in any matter.’ "286

The secretary of this council and the probable framer of this remarkable speech was Gerbert, who became archbishop of Rheims, afterwards of Ravenna, and at last pope under the name of Sylvester II. But pope John XV. (or his master Crescentius) declared the proceedings of this council null and void, and interdicted Gerbert. His successor, Gregory V., threatened the kingdom of France with a general interdict unless Arnulf was restored. Gerbert, forsaken by king Robert I., who needed the favor of the pope, was glad to escape from his uncomfortable seat and to accept an invitation of Otho III. to become his teacher (995). Arnulf was reinstated in Rheims.


 § 65. The Second Degradation of the Papacy from Otho I to Henry III. a.d. 973–1046.


I. The sources for the papacy in the second half of the tenth and in the eleventh century are collected in Muratori’s Annali d’ Italia (Milano 1744–49); in Migne’s Patrol., Tom. CXXXVII.-CL.; Leibnitz, Annales Imp. Occid. (down to a.d. 1005; Han., 1843, 3 vols.); Pertz, . Mon. Germ. (Auctores), Tom. V. (Leges), Tom. II.; Ranke, Jahrbucher des deutschen Reiches unter dem Sächs. Hause (Berlin 1837–40, 3 vols.; the second vol. by Giesebrecht and Wilmans contains the reigns of Otho II. and Otho III.). On the sources see Giesebrecht, Gesch. der deutschen Kaiserzeit, II. 568 sqq.

II. Stenzel: Geschichte Deutschlands unter den Fränkischen Kaisern. Leipz., 1827, 1828, 2 vols.

C. F. Hock (R.C.): Gerbert oder Papst Sylvester und sein Jahrhundert. Wien, 1837.

C. Höfler (R.C.): Die deutschen Päpste. Regensb., 1839, 2 vols.

H. J. Floss (R.C.): Die Papstwahl unter den Ottonen. Freib., 1858.

C. Will: Die Anfänge der Restauration der Kirche im elften Jahrh. Marburg, 1859–’62, 2 vols.

R. Köpke und E. Dümmler: Otto der Grosse. Leipz. 1876.

Comp. Baronius (Annal.); Jaffe (Reg. 325–364); Hefele (Conciliengeschichte IV. 632 sqq., 2d ed.); Gfrörer (vol. III., P. III., 1358–1590, and vol. IV., 1846); Gregorovius (vols. III. and IV.); v. Reumont (II. 292 sqq.); Baxmann (II. 125–180); and Giesebrecht (I. 569–762, and II. 1–431).


The reform of the papacy was merely temporary. It was followed by a second period of disgrace, which lasted till the middle of the eleventh century, but was interrupted by a few respectable popes and signs of a coming reformation.

After the death of Otho, during the short and unfortunate reign of his son, Otho II. (973–983), a faction of the Roman nobility under the lead of Crescentius or Cencius (probably a son of pope John X. and Theodora) gained the upper hand.287  He rebelled against the imperial pope, Benedict VI., who was murdered (974), and elected an Italian anti-pope, Boniface VII., who had soon to flee to Constantinople, but returned after some years, murdered another imperial pope, John XIV. (983), and maintained himself on the blood-stained throne by a lavish distribution of stolen money till he died, probably by violence (985).288

During the minority of Otho III., the imperialists, headed by Alberic, Count of Tusculum, and the popular Roman party under the lead of the younger Crescentius (perhaps a grandson of the infamous Theodora), contended from their fortified places for the mastery of Rome and the papacy. Bloodshed was a daily amusement. Issuing from their forts, the two parties gave battle to each other whenever they met on the street. They set up rival popes, and mutilated their corpses with insane fury. The contending parties were related. Marozia’s son, Alberic, had probably inherited Tusculum (which is about fifteen miles from Rome).289  After the death of Alberic of Tusculum, Crescentius acquired the government under the title of Consul, and indulged the Romans with a short dream of republican freedom in opposition to the hated rule of the foreign barbarians. He controlled pope John XV.


Gregory V.


Otho III., on his way to Rome, elected his worthy chaplain and cousin Bruno, who was consecrated as Gregory V. (996) and then anointed Otho III. emperor. He is the first pope of German blood.290  Crescentius was treated with great leniency, but after the departure of the German army he stirred up a rebellion, expelled the German pope and elevated Philagathus, a Calabrian Greek, under the name of John XVI. to the chair of St. Peter. Gregory V. convened a large synod at Pavia, which unanimously pronounced the anathema against Crescentius and his pope. The emperor hastened to Rome with an army, stormed the castle of St. Angelo (the mole of Hadrian), and beheaded Crescentius as a traitor, while John XVI. by order of Gregory V. was, according to the savage practice of that age, fearfully mutilated, and paraded through the streets on an ass, with his face turned to the tail and with a wine-bladder on his head.


Sylvester II.


After the sudden and probably violent death of Gregory V. (999), the emperor elected, with the assent of the clergy and the people, his friend and preceptor, Gerbert, archbishop of Rheims, and then of Ravenna, to the papal throne. Gerbert was the first French pope, a man of rare learning and ability, and moral integrity. He abandoned the liberal views he had expressed at the Council at Rheims,291 and the legend says that he sold his soul to the devil for the papal tiara. He assumed the significant name of Sylvester II., intending to aid the youthful emperor (whose mother was a Greek princess) in the realization of his utopian dream to establish a Graeco-Latin empire with old Rome for its capital, and to rule from it the Christian world, as Constantine the Great had done during the pontificate of Sylvester I. But Otho died in his twenty-second year, of Italian fever or of poison (1002).292

Sylvester II. followed his imperial pupil a year after (1003). His learning, acquired in part from the Arabs in Spain, appeared a marvel to his ignorant age, and suggested a connection with magic. He sent to St. Stephen of Hungary the royal crown, and, in a pastoral letter to Europe where Jerusalem is represented as crying for help, he gave the first impulse to the crusades (1000), ninety years before they actually began.293

In the expectation of the approaching judgment, crowds of pilgrims flocked to Palestine to greet the advent of the Saviour. But the first millennium passed, and Christendom awoke with a sigh of relief on the first day of the year 1001.


Benedict VIII., and Emperor Henry II.


Upon the whole the Saxon emperors were of great service to the papacy: they emancipated it from the tyranny of domestic political factions, they restored it to wealth, and substituted worthy occupants for monstrous criminals.

During the next reign the confusion broke out once more. The anti-imperial party regained the ascendency, and John Crescentius, the son of the beheaded consul, ruled under the title of Senator and Patricius. But the Counts of Tusculum held the balance of power pretty evenly, and gradually superseded the house of Crescentius. They elected Benedict VIII. (1012–1024), a member of their family; while Crescentius and his friends appointed an anti-pope (Gregory).

Benedict proved a very energetic pope in the defence of Italy against the Saracens. He forms the connecting link between the Ottonian and the Hildebrandian popes. He crowned Henry II, (1014), as the faithful patron and protector simply, not as the liege-lord, of the pope.

This last emperor of the Saxon house was very devout, ascetic, and liberal in endowing bishoprics. He favored clerical celibacy. He aimed earnestly at a moral reformation of the church. He declared at a diet, that he had made Christ his heir, and would devote all he possessed to God and his church. He filled the vacant bishoprics and abbeys with learned and worthy men; and hence his right of appointment was not resisted. He died after a reign of twenty-two years, and was buried at his favorite place, Bamberg in Bavaria, where he had founded a bishopric (1007). He and his chaste wife, Kunigunde, were canonized by the grateful church (1146).294


The Tusculan Popes. Benedict IX.


With Benedict VIII. the papal dignity became hereditary in the Tusculan family. He had bought it by open bribery. He was followed by his brother John XIX., a layman, who bought it likewise, and passed in one day through all the clerical degrees.

After his death in 1033, his nephew Theophylact, a boy of only ten or twelve years of age,295 ascended the papal throne under the name of Benedict IX. (1033–1045). His election was a mere money bargain between the Tusculan family and the venal clergy and populace of Rome. Once more the Lord took from Jerusalem and Judah the stay and the staff, and gave children to be their princes, and babes to rule over them.296

This boy-pope fully equaled and even surpassed John XII. in precocious wickedness. He combined the childishness of Caligala and the viciousness of Heliogabalus.297  He grew worse as he advanced in years. He ruled like a captain of banditti, committed murders and adulteries in open day-light, robbed pilgrims on the graves of martyrs, and turned Rome into a den of thieves. These crimes went unpunished; for who could judge a pope?  And his brother, Gregory, was Patrician of the city. At one time, it is reported, he had the crazy notion of marrying his cousin and enthroning a woman in the chair of St. Peter; but the father of the intended bride refused unless he abdicated the papacy.298  Desiderius, who himself afterwards became pope (Victor III.), shrinks from describing the detestable life of this Benedict, who, he says, followed in the footsteps of Simon Magus rather than of Simon Peter, and proceeded in a career of rapine, murder, and every species of felony, until even the people of Rome became weary of his iniquities, and expelled him from the city. Sylvester III. was elected antipope (Jan., 1044), but Benedict soon resumed the papacy with all his vices (April 10, 1044), then sold it for one or two thousand pounds silver299 to an archpresbyter John Gratian of the same house (May, 1045), after he had emptied the treasury of every article of value, and, rueing the bargain, he claimed the dignity again (Nov., 1047), till he was finally expelled from Rome (July, 1048).


Gregory VI.


John Gratian assumed the name Gregory, VI. He was revered as a saint for his chastity which, on account of its extreme rarity in Rome, was called an angelic virtue. He bought the papacy with the sincere desire to reform it, and made the monk Hildebrand, the future reformer, his chaplain. He acted on the principle that the end sanctifies the means.

Thus there were for a while three rival popes. Benedict IX. (before his final expulsion) held the Lateran, Gregory VI. Maria Maggiore, Sylvester III. St. Peter’s and the Vatican.300

Their feuds reflected the general condition of Italy. The streets of Rome swarmed with hired assassins, the whole country with robbers, the virtue of pilgrims was openly assailed, even churches and the tombs of the apostles were desecrated by bloodshed.

Again the German emperor had to interfere for the restoration of order.


 § 66. Henry III and the Synod of Sutri. Deposition of three rival Popes. a.d. 1046.


Bonizo (or Bonitho, bishop of Sutri, afterwards of Piacenza, and friend of Gregory VII., d. 1089): Liber ad amicum, s. de persecutione Ecclesiae (in Oefelii Scriptores rerum Boicarum II., 794, and better in Jaffe’s Monumenta Gregoriana, 1865). Contains in lib. V. a history, of the popes from Benedict IX. to Gregory VII., with many errors.

Rodulfus Glaber (or Glaber Radulfus, monk of Cluny, about 1046): Historia sui temporis (in Migne, Tom. 142).

Desiderius (Abbot of M. Cassino, afterwards pope Victor III., d. 1080): De Miraculis a S. Benedicto aliisque monachis Cassiniensibus gestis Dialog., in "Bibl. Patr."  Lugd. XVIII. 853.

Annales Romani in Pertz, Mon. Germ. VII.

Annales Corbeienses, in Pertz, Mon. Germ. V.; and in Jaffé, Monumenta Corbeiensia, Berlin, 1864.

Ernst Steindorff: Jahrbucher des deutschen Reichs unter Heinrich III. Leipzig, 1874.

Hefele: Conciliengesch. IV. 706 sqq. (2d ed.).

See Lit. in § 64, especially Höfler and Will.


Emperor Henry III., of the house of Franconia, was appealed to by the advocates of reform, and felt deeply the sad state of the church. He was only twenty-two years old, but ripe in intellect, full of energy and zeal, and aimed at a reformation of the church under the control of the empire, as Hildebrand afterwards labored for a reformation of the church under the control of the papacy.

On his way to Rome for the coronation he held (Dec. 20, 1046) a synod at Sutri, a small town about twenty-five miles north of Rome, and a few days afterwards another synod at Rome which completed the work.301  Gregory VI. presided at first. The claims of the three rival pontiffs were considered. Benedict IX. and Sylvester III. were soon disposed of, the first having twice resigned, the second being a mere intruder. Gregory VI. deserved likewise deposition for the sin of simony in buying the papacy; but as he had convoked the synod by order of the emperor and was otherwise a worthy person, he was allowed to depose himself or to abdicate. He did it in these words: "I, Gregory, bishop, servant of the servants of God, do hereby adjudge myself to be removed from the pontificate of the Holy Roman Church, because of the enormous error which by simoniacal impurity has crept into and vitiated my election."  Then he asked the assembled fathers: "Is it your pleasure that so it shall be?" to which they unanimously replied: "Your pleasure is our pleasure; therefore so let it be."  As soon as the humble pope had pronounced his own sentence, he descended from the throne, divested himself of his pontifical robes, and implored pardon on his knees for the usurpation of the highest dignity in Christendom. He acted as pope de facto, and pronounced himself no pope de jure. He was used by the synod for deposing his two rivals, and then for deposing himself. In that way the synod saved the principle that the pope was above every human tribunal, and responsible to God alone. This view of the case of Gregory, rests on the reports of Bonitho and Desiderius. According to other reports in the Annales Corbeienses and Peter Damiani, who was present at Sutri, Gregory was deposed directly by the Synod.302  At all events, the deposition was real and final, and the cause was the sin of simony.

But if simony vitiated an election, there were probably few legitimate popes in the tenth century when everything was venal and corrupt in Rome. Moreover bribery seems a small sin compared with the enormous crimes of several of these Judases. Hildebrand recognized Gregory VI. by adopting his pontifical name in honor of his memory, and yet he made relentless war the sin of simony. He followed the self-deposed pope as upon chaplain across the Alps into exile, and buried him in peace on the banks of the Rhine.

Henry III. adjourned the Synod of Sutri to St. Peter’s in Rome for the election of a new pope (Dec. 23 and 24, 1046). The synod was to elect, but no Roman clergyman could be found free of the pollution of "simony and fornication."  Then the king, vested by the synod with the green mantle of the patriciate and the plenary authority of the electors, descended from his throne, and seated Suidger, bishop of Bamberg, a man of spotless character, on the vacant chair of St. Peter amid the loud hosannas of the assembly.303  The new pope assumed the name of Clement II., and crowned Henry emperor on the festival of Christmas, on which Charlemagne had been crowned. The name was a reminder of the conflict of the first Clement of Rome with Simon Magus. But he outlived his election only nine months, and his body was transferred to his beloved Bamberg. The wretched Benedict IX. again took possession of the Lateran (till July 16, 1048). He died afterwards in Grotto Ferrata, according to one report as a penitent saint, according to another as a hardened sinner whose ghost frightened the living. A third German pontiff, Poppo, bishop of Brixen, called Damasus II., was elected, but died twenty-three days after his consecration (Aug. 10, 1048), of the Roman fever, if not of poison.

The emperor, at the request of the Romans, appointed at Worms in December, 1048, Bruno, bishop of Toul, to the papal chair. He was a man of noble birth, fine appearance, considerable learning, unblemished character, and sincere piety, in full sympathy with the spirit of reform which emanated from Cluny. He accepted the appointment in presence of the Roman deputies, subject to the consent of the clergy and people of Rome.304  He invited the monk Hildebrand to accompany him in his pilgrimage to Rome. Hildebrand refused at first, because Bruno had not been canonically elected, but by the secular and royal power; but he was persuaded to follow him.

 Bruno reached Rome in the month of February, 1049, in the dress of a pilgrim, barefoot, weeping, regardless of the hymns of welcome. His election was unanimously confirmed by the Roman clergy and people, and he was solemnly consecrated Feb. 12, as Leo IX. He found the papal treasury empty, and his own means were soon exhausted. He chose Hildebrand as his subdeacon, financier, and confidential adviser, who hereafter was the soul of the papal reform, till he himself ascended the papal throne in 1073.

We stand here at the close of the deepest degradation and on the threshold of the highest elevation of the papacy. The synod of Sutri and the reign of Leo IX. mark the beginning of a disciplinary reform. Simony or the sale and purchase of ecclesiastical dignities, and Nicolaitism or the carnal sins of the clergy, including marriage, concubinage and unnatural vices, were the crying evils of the church in the eyes of the most serious men, especially the disciples of Cluny and of St. Romuald. A reformation therefore from the hierarchical standpoint of the middle ages was essentially a suppression of these two abuses. And as the corruption had reached its climax in the papal chair, the reformation had to begin at the head before it could reach the members. It was the work chiefly of Hildebrand or Gregory VII., with whom the next period opens.



* Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997. This material has been carefully compared, corrected¸ and emended (according to the 1910 edition of Charles Scribner's Sons) by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas, TX, 1998.

210  This list is compiled from Jaffé (Regesta), Potthast (Bibl. Hist. Medii AEvi, Supplement, 259-267), and other sources. The whole number of popes from the Apostle Peter to Leo XIII. is 263.

The emperors marked with an asterisk were crowned by the pope, the others were simply kings and emperors of Germany.

211  Clement V. moved the papal see to Avignon in 1309, and his successors continued to reside there for seventy years, till Gregory XI. After that date arose a forty years’ schism between the Roman popes and the Avignon popes.

212  Frederick III. was the last emperor crowned in Rome. All his successors, except Charles VII. and Francis I. were of the House of Hapsburg.

213  Die Römischen Paepste des 16und 17ten Jahrhunderts, Th. I., p. 44 (2nd ed.).

214  Apocrisiarius (ajpokrisiavrio", or a[ggelo"), responsalis. Du Cange defines it: "Nuntius, Legatus … praesertim qui a pontifice Romano, vel etiam ab archiepiscopis ad comitatum mittebantur, quo res ecclesiarum suarum peragerent, et de iis ad principem referrent." The Roman delegates to Constantinople were usually taken from the deacons. Gregory is the fifth Roman deacon who served in this capacity at Constantinople, according to Du Cange s. v. Apocrisiarius.

215  See above § 10.

216  Gregory alludes to this fact in a letter to John (Lib. V. 18, in Migne’s ed. of Greg. Opera, vol. III. 740) and to the emperor Mauricius (Lib. V. 20, in Migne III. 747), but says in both that the popes never claimed nor used "hoc temerarium nomen." ... "Certe pro beati Petri apostolorum principis honore, per venerandam Chalcedonensem synodum Romano pontifici oblatum est [nomen istud blasphemiae]. Sed nullus eorum unquam hoc singularitatis nomine uti consensit, dum privatum aliquid daretur uni, honore debito sacerdotes privarentur universi. Quid est ergo quod nos huius vocabuli gloriam et oblatam non quaerimus, et alter sibi hanc arripere at non oblatam praesumit?" Strictly speaking, however, the fact assumed by Gregory is not quite correct. Leo was styled oijkoumeniko;"ajrciepivskopo" only in an accusation against Dioscurus, in the third session of Chalcedon. The papal delegates subscribed: Vicarii apostolici universalis ecclesiae Papae, which was translated by the Greeks: th'"oijkoumenikh'"ejkklhsiva"ejpiskovpou. The popes claimed to be popes (but not bishops) of the universal church. See Hefele, Conciliengesch. II. 526. Boniface III is said to have openly assumed the title universalis episcopis in 606, when he obtained from the emperor Phocas a decree styling the see of Peter "caput omnium ecclesiarum." It appears as self-assumed in the Liber Diurnus, a.d. 682-’5, and is frequent after the seventh century. The canonists, however, make a distinction between "universalis ecclesiae episcopus." and "episcopus universalis" or "oecumenicus," meaning by the latter an immediate jurisdiction in the diocese of other bishops, which was formerly denied to the pope. But according to the Vatican system of 1870, he is the bishop of bishops, over every single bishop, and over all bishops put together, and all bishops are simply his vicars, as he himself is the vicar of Christ. See my Creeds of Christendom, I. 151.

217  See the letters in Lib. V. 18-21 (Migne III. 738-751). His predecessor, Pelagius II. (578-590), had already strongly denounced the assumption of the title by John, and at the same time disclaimed it for himself, while yet clearly asserting the universal primacy of the see of Peter. See Migne, Tom. LXXII. 739, and Baronius, ad ann. 587.

218  Ep. V. 43: ad Eulogium et Anastasium episcopos; VI. 60; VII. 34, 40.

219  Ep. VII. 13: "Ego autem confidenter dico quia quisquis se universalem sacerdotem vocat, vel vocari desiderat, in elatione sua Antichristum praecurrit, quia superbiendo se caeteris praeponit."

220  "Servus servorum Dei." See Joa. Diaconus, Vit. Greg. II. 1, and Lib. Diurnus, in Migne, Tom. CV. 23. Augustin (Epist. 217, ad Vitalem) had before subscribed himself: "Servus Christi, et per ipsum servus servorum ejus." Comp. Matt. xx. 26; xxiii. II. Fulgentius styled himself "Servorum Christi famulus." The popes ostentatiously wash the beggars’ feet at St. Peter’s in holy week, in imitation of Christ’s example, but expect kings and queens to kiss their toe.

221  His letter "ad Phocam imperatorem," Ep. XIII. 31 (III. 1281 in Migne) begins with "Gloria in excelsis Deo, qui juxta quod scriptum est, immutat tempora et transfert regna." Comp. his letter "ad Leontiam imperatricen" (Ep. XIII. 39).

222  Gibbon (ch. 46): "As a subject and a Christian, it was the duty of Gregory to acquiesce in the established government; but the joyful applause with which he salutes the fortune of the assassin, has sullied, with indelible disgrace, the character of the saint." Milman (II. 83): "The darkest stain on the name of Gregory is his cruel and unchristian triumph in the fall of the Emperor Maurice-his base and adulatory praise of Phocas, the most odious and Sanguinary tyrant who had ever seized the throne of Constantinople." Montalembert says (II. 116): "This is the only stain in the life of Gregory. We do not attempt either to conceal or excuse it .... Among the greatest and holiest of mortals, virtue, like wisdom, always falls short in some respect." It is charitable to assume, with Baronius and other Roman Catholic historians, that Gregory, although usually very well informed, at the time he expressed his extravagant joy at the elevation of Phocas, knew only the fact, and not the bloody means of the elevation. The same ignorance must be assumed in the case of his flattering letters to Brunhilde, the profligate and vicious fury of France. Otherwise we would have here on a small scale an anticipation of the malignant joy with which Gregory XIII. hailed the fearful slaughter of the Huguenots.

223  The words run thus: "Hic [Phocas] rogante papa Bonifacio statuit Romanae et apostolicae ecclesia caput esse omniuim ecclesiarum, quia ecclesia Constantinopolitana primam se omnium rum scribebat." Paulus Diaconus, De Gest. Lomb. IV., cap. 7, in Muratori, Rer. Ital., I. 465. But the authenticity of this report which was afterwards frequently copied, is doubtful. It has been abused by controversialists on both sides. It is not the first declaration of the Roman primacy, nor is it a declaration of an exclusive primacy, nor an abrogation of the title of "oecumenical patriarch" on the part of the bishop of Constantinople. Comp. Greenwood, vol. II. 239 sqq.

224  Ep. VII. 40 (Migne III. 899). This parallel between the three great sees of Peter—a hierarchical tri-personality in unity of essence—seems to be entirely original with Gregory, and was never used afterwards by a Roman pontiff. It is fatal to the sole primacy of the Roman chair of Peter, and this is the very essence of popery.

225  Ep. VIII. 30 (III. 933).

226  Epist. V. 20 (III. 745). He quotes in proof the pet-texts of popery, John xxi. 17; Luke xxii. 31; Matt. xvi. 18.

227  Such titles as Universalis Episcopus (used by Boniface III., a year after Gregory’s death), Pontifex Maximus, Summus Pontifex, Virarius Christi, and even "ipsius Dei in terris Virarius" (Conc. Trid. VI. De reform., c. 1). First Vicar of Peter, then Vicar of Christ, at last Vicar of God Almighty!

228  Ep. missoria, cap. 3 (ed. Migne I. 513): "Primum quidem fundamenta historice ponimus; deinde per significatinem typicam in artem fidei fabricam mentis erigimus; ad extremum per moralitatus gratiam, quasi superducto aedificium colore vestimus."

229  See "Hymns Ancient and Modem."

230  · Comp. Barmby, Greg. the Gr., pp. 188-190; Lau, p. 262; Ebert I. 519.

231  Or Luitprand, born about 690, died 744. There is also a Lombard historian of that name, a deacon of the cathedral of Pavia, afterwards bishop of Cremona, died 972.

232  Gibbon actually attributes these titles to Charles Martel; while Bryce (p. 40) thinks that they were first given to Pepin. Gregory II. had already (724) addressed Charles Martel as "Patricius" (see Migne, Opera Caroli M. II. 69). Gregory III. sent him in 739 ipsas sacratissimas claves confessionis beati Petri quas vobus ad regnum dimisimus (ib. p. 66), which implies the transfer of civil authority over Rome.

233  Milman (Book IV., ch. 9) says that Dante, the faithful recorder of popular Catholic tradition, adopts the condemnatory legend which puts Charles "in the lowest pit of hell." But I can find no mention of him in Dante. The Charles Martel of Parad. VIII. and IX. is a very, different person, a king of Hungary, who died 1301. See Witte’s Dante, p. 667, and Carey’s note on Par. VIII. 53. On the relations of Charles Martel to Boniface see Rettberg, Kirchengesch. Deutschlands, I. 306 sqq.

234  Or Pipin, Pippin, Pippinus. The last is the spelling in his documents.

235  Rettberg, however (I. 385 sqq.), disconnects Boniface from all participation in the elevation and coronation of Pepin, and represents him as being rather opposed to it. He argues from the silence of some annalists, and from the improbability that the pope should have repeated the consecration if it had been previously performed by his legate.

236  This is the enumeration of Baronius ad ann. 755. Others define the extent differently. Comp. Wiltsch, Kirchl. Geographie und Statistik, I. pp. 246 sqq.

237  Constantine bestowed upon the pope a portion of the Lateran palace for his residence, and upon the church the right to hold real estate and to receive bequests of landed property from individuals. This is the slender foundation for the fable of the Donatio Constantini.

238  Inferno xix. 115-118:

"Ahi Costantin, di quanto mal fu matre,

 Non la tua conversion, ma quella dote,

 Che da te presse il primo ricco patre!"

239  Paradiso XX. 57-60; VI. 94-97. Longfellow’s translation.

240  Joseph de Maistre: "Cet homme est si grand que, la grandeur a pénétré son nom." (ch. 4),

241  "It would be folly," says Eginhard "to write a word about the birth and infancy or even the boyhood of Charles, for nothing has ever been written on the subject, and there is no one alive who can give information about it." His birth is usually assigned to April 2, 742, at Aix-la-Chapelle; but the legend makes him the child of illegitimate love, who grew up wild as a miller’s son in Bavaria. His name is mentioned only twice before be assumed the reins of government, once at a court reception given by his father to pope Stephen II., and once as a witness in the Aquitanian campaigns.

242  According to the enumeration of Eginhard (ch. 33), who, however, gives only 21, omitting Narbonne. Charles bequeathed one-third of his treasure and moveable goods to the metropolitan sees.

243  The magnificent portrait of Charles by Albrecht Dürer is a fancy picture, and not sustained by the oldest representations. Vétault gives several portraits, and discusses them, p. 540.

244  Wintermonat for January, Hornung for February, Lenz for March, Ostermonat for April, etc. See Eginhard, ch. 29.

245  Eginhard, ch. 27.

246  Bossuet justified all his conquests because they were an extension of Christianity."Les conquêtes prodigieuses," he says, "furent la dilatation du règne de Dieu, et il se moutra très chrétien dans toutes ses aeuvres."

247  Pope Stephen III. protested, indeed, in the most violent language against the second marriage of Charles with Desiderata, a daughter of the king of Lombardy, but not on the ground of divorce from his first wife, which would have furnished a very good reason, but from opposition to a union with the "perfidious, leprous, and fetid brood of the Lombards, a brood hardly reckoned human." Charles married the princess, to the delight of his mother, but repudiated her the next year and sent her back to her father. See Milman, Bk. IV., ch. 12 (II. 439).

248  "Maximo totius populi luctu, " says Eginhard.

249  The historic foundation of this defeat is given by Eginhard, ch. 9. It was then marvellously embellished, and Roland became the favorite theme of minstrels and poets, as Théroulde’s Chanson de Roland, Turpin’s Chroniqué, Bojardo’s Orlando Innamorato, Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, etc. His enchanted Horn sounded so loud that the birds fell dead at its blast, and the whole Saracen army drew back terror-struck. When he was attacked in the Pyrenees, he blew the horn for the last time so hard that the veins of his neck started, and Charlemagne heard it several miles off at St. Jean Pied de Port, but too late to save

"The dead who, deathless all,

Were slain at famous Roncevall."

250  Annales Laurissenses ad ann. 801: "Ipsa die sacratissima natalis Domini cum Rex ad Missam ante confessionem b. Petri Apostoli ab oratione surgeret, Leo P. coronam capriti ejus imposuit, et a cuncto Romanorum populo acclamatum est:, Karolo Augusto, a Deo coronato, magno et pacifico Imperatori Romanorum, vita et victoria!’ Et post Laudes ab Apostolico more antiquorum principum adoratus est, atque, ablato Patricii nomine, Imperator et Augustus est appellatus." Comp. Eginhard, Annal. ad ann. 800, and Vita Car., c. 28.

251  But the date of the letter and the meaning of imperialis are not quite certain. See Rettberg, Kirchengesch. Deutschlands, I. 430, and Baxmann, Politik der Päpste, I. 313 sqq.

252  The picture is reproduced in the works of Vétault and Stacke above quoted.

253  Milman (II. 497): "The Council of Frankfort displays most fully the power assumed by Charlemagne over the hierarchy as well as the nobility of the realm, the mingled character, the all-embracing comprehensiveness of his legislation. The assembly at Frankfort was at once a Diet or Parliament of the realm and an ecclesiastical Council. It took cognizance alternately of matters purely ecclesiastical and of matters as clearly, secular. Charlemagne was present and presided in the Council of Frankfort. The canons as well as the other statutes were issued chiefly in his name."

254  Sanctae Ecclesiae tam pium ac devotum in servitio Dei rectorem.  Also, in his own language, Devotus Ecclesiae defensor atque adjutor in omnibus apostolicae sedis. Rettberg I. 425, 439 sqq.

255  Ann. Einhardi, ad. ann. 813 (in Migne’s Patrol. Tom. 104, p. 478): Evocatum ad se apud Aquasgrani filium suum Illudovicum Aquitaniae regem, coronam illi imposuit et imperialis nominis sibi consortem fecit.’  When Stephen IV. visited Louis in 816, he bestowed on him simply spiritual consecration. In the same manner Louis appointed his son Lothair emperor who was afterwards crowned by the pope in Rome (823).

256  Bryce, p. 396 (8th ed.)

257  Friedrich Rückert has reproduced this significant German legend in a poem beginning:

Der alte Barbarossa,

Der Kaiser Friederich,

Im unterird’schen Schlosse

Hält er verzaubert sich.


Er ist niemals gestorben,

Er lebt darin noch jetzt;

Er hat im Schloss verborgen

Zum Schlaf sich hingesetzt.


Er hat hinabgenommen

Des Reiches Herrlichkeit,

Und wird einst wiederkommen

Mit ihr zu seiner Zeit, "etc.


258  He alone, of all the emperors, is consigned to hell by Dante (Inferno, x. 119):

"Within here is the second Frederick."

259  Schiller calls it "die kaiserlose, die schreckliche Zeit."

260  The pope Pius VI. even made a journey to Vienna, but when he extended his hand to the minister Kaunitz to kiss, the minister took it and shook it. Joseph in turn visited Rome, and was received by the people with the shout: "Evviva il nostro imperatore!"

261  Dante (Purgat. VII. 94) represents Rudolf of Hapsburg as seated gloomily apart in purgatory, and mourning his sin of neglecting


"To heal the wounds that Italy have slain."


Weary of the endless strife of domestic tyrants and factions in every city, Dante longed for some controlling power that should restore unity and peace to his beloved but unfortunate Italy. He expounded his political ideas in his work De Monarchia.

262  In another letter to Fesch (Correspond. de l’ empereur Napol. Ier, Tom. xi. 528), he writes, "Pour le pape je suis Charemagne. parce que comme Charlemagne je réunis la couronne de Prance à celle du Lombards et que mon empire confine avec l’ Orient." Quoted by Bryce.

263  The oldest testimony in the almost contemporary "Liber Pontificalis" of Anastasius is wanting in the best manuscripts, and must be a later interpolation. Döllinger shows that the myth, although it may have circulated earlier in the mouth of the people, was not definitely put into writing before the middle of the thirteenth century.

264  The preface begins: "Isidorus Mercator servus Christi lectori conservo suo et parenti suo in Domino fideli (al. fidei) salutem.’ The byname "Mercator," which is found in 30 of the oldest codices, is so far unexplained. Some refer it to Marius Mercator, a learned Occidental layman residing in Constantinople, who wrote against Pelagius and translated ecclesiastical records which pseudo-Isidorus made use of. Others regard it as a mistake for " Peccator" (a title of humility frequently used by priests and bishops, e.g. by St. Patrick in his " Confession"), which is found in 3 copies. " Mercatus" also occurs it, several copies, and this would be equivalent to redemptus, " Isidorus, the redeemed servant of Christ." See Hinschius and Richter, l.c.

265  The original name was decretale constitutum or decretalis epistola, afterwards decretalis.  See Richter, l.c. p. 80.

266  The forgery was first suggested by Nicolaus de Cusa, in the fifteenth century, and Calvin (Inst. IV. 7, 11, 20), and then proved by the Magdeburg Centuries, and more conclusively by the Calvinistic divine David Blondel (1628) against the attempted vindication of the Jesuit Torres (Turrianus, 1572). The brothers Ballerini, Baronius, Bellarmin, Theiner, Walter, Möhler, Hefele, and other Roman Catholic scholars admit the forgery, but usually try to mitigate it and to underrate the originality and influence of Pseudo-Isidor. Some Protestant divines have erred in the opposite direction (as Richter justly observes, l.c. p. 117).

267  "Dominis meis beatissimis Petro et Paulo, et per eos etiam beato Sylvestro Patri nostro summo pontifici, et universalis urbis Romae papae, et omnibus ejus successoribus pontificibus . . concedimus palatium imperii nostri Lateranense ... deinde diadema, videlicet coronam capitis nostri simulque pallium, vel mitram .... . et omnia imperialia indumenta ... et imperialia sceptra . . et omnem possessionem imperialis culminis et gloriam potestatis nostrae ... Unde ut pontificalis apex non vilescat, sed magis amplius quam terreni imperii dignitas et gloriae potentia decoretur, ecce tam palatium nostrum, ut praedictum est, quamque Pomanae vobis et omnes Italiae seu occidentalium regionum provincias, loca et civitates beatissimo pontifici nostro, Sylvestro universali papae, concedimus atque relinquimus." In Migne, Tom. 130, p. 249 sq.

268  That Constantine made donations to Sylvester on occasion of his pretended baptism is related first in the Acta Sylvestri, then by Hadrian I. in a letter to Charlemagne (780). In the ninth century the spurious document appeared. The spuriousness was perceived as early as 999 by the emperor Otho III. and proven by Laurentius Valla about 1440 in De falso credita et ementita Constantini donatione. The document is universally given up as a fiction, though Baronius defended the donation itself.

269  The following persons have been suggested as authors: Benedictus Levita (Deacon) of Mayence, whose Capitularium of about 847 agrees in several passages literally with the Decretals (Blondel, Knust, Walter); Rothad of Soissons (Phillips, Gfrörer); Otgar, archbishop of Mayence, who took a prominent part in the clerical rebellion against Louis the Pious (Ballerinii, Wasserschleben); Ebo, archbishop of Rheims, the predecessor of Hincmar and leader in that rebellion, or some unknown ecclesiastic in that diocese (Weizsäcker, von Noorden, Hinschius, Richter, Baxmann). The repetitions suggest a number of authors and a gradual growth.

270  Nicolai I. Epist. ad universos episcopos Galliae ann. 865 (Mansi xv. p. 694 sq.): "Decretales epistolae Rom. Pontificum sunt recipiendae, etiamsi non sunt canonum codici compaginatae: quoniam inter ipsos canones unum b. Leonis capitulum constat esse permixtum, quo omnia decretalia constituta sedes apostolicae custodiri mandantur.—Itaque nihil interest, utrum sint omnia decretalia sedis Apost. constituta inter canones conciliorum immixta, cum omnia in uno copore compaginare non possint et illa eis intersint, quae firmitatem his quae desunt et vigorem suum assignet.—Sanctus Gelasius (quoque) non dixit suscipiendas decretales epistolas quae inter canones habentur, nec tantum quas moderni pontifices ediderunt, sed quas beatissimi Papae diversis temporibus ab urbe Roma dederunt."

271  Jaffé, 246 and 247, and Mansi, XV. 687 sqq.

272  Rotha dum canonice ... dejectum et a Nicolao papa non regulariter, sed potentialiter restitutum." See Baxmann, II. 26.

273  According to Auxentius and Vulgarius, pope Stephen VII. was the author of the outrage on the corpse of Formosus; Liutprand traces it to Sergius III. in 898, when he was anti-pope of John IX. Baronius conjectures that Liutprand wrote Sergius for Stephanus. Hefele assents, Conciliengesch. IV. 561 sqq.

274  Höfler (I. 16) asserts that every princely family of Italy in the tenth century was tainted with incestuous blood, and that it was difficult to distinguish wives and sisters mothers and daughters. See his genealogical tables appended to the first volume.

275  Liutprandi Antapodosis, II. 48 (Pertz, V. 297; Migne, CXXXVI. 827): Theodora, scortum impudens ... (quod dictu etiam foedissimum est), Romanae civitatis non inviriliter monarchiam obtinebat. Quae duas habuit natas, Marotiam atque Theodoram, sibi non solum coaequales, verum etiam Veneris exercitio promptiores. Harum Marotia ex Papa Sergio-Joannem, qui post Joannis Ravennatis obitum Romanae Ecclesiae obtinuit dignitatem, nefario genuit adulterio, "etc. In the same ch. he calls the elder Theodora "meretrix satis impudentissima, Veneris calore succensa."

This Theodora was the wife of Theophylactus, Roman Consul and Senator, probably of Byzantine origin, who appears in 901 among the Roman judges of Louis III. She called herself " Senatrix." She was the mistress of Adalbert of Tuscany, called the Rich (d. 926), and of pope John X. (d. 928). And yet she is addressed by Eugenius Vulgarius as "sanctissima et venerabilis matrona!" (See Dümmler, l.c. p. 146, and Hefele, IV. 575.) Her daughter Marozia (or Maruccia, the diminutive of Maria, Mariechen) was the boldest and most successful of the three. She was the mistress of pope Sergius III. and of Alberic I., Count of Tusculum (d. 926), and married several times. Comp. Liutprand, III. 43 and 44. She perpetuated her rule through her son, Alberic II., and her grandson, pope John XII. With all their talents and influence, these strong-minded women were very, ignorant; the daughters of the younger Theodora could neither read nor write, and signed their name in 945 with a +. (Gregorovius, III. 282 sq.) The Tusculan popes and the Crescentii, who controlled and disgraced the papacy in the eleventh century, were descendants of the same stock.

The main facts of this shameful reign rest on good contemporary Catholic authorities (as Liutprand, Flodoard, Ratherius of Verona, Benedict of Soracte, Gerbert, the transactions of the Councils in Rome, Rheims, etc.), and are frankly admitted with devout indignation by Baronius and other Roman Catholic historians, but turned by them into an argument for the divine origin of the papacy, whose restoration to power appears all the more wonderful from the depth of its degradation. Möhler (Kirchgesch. ed. by Gama, II. 183) calls Sergius III., John X., John XI., and John XII." horrible popes," and says that " crimes alone secured the papal dignity!" Others acquit the papacy of guilt, since it was not independent. The best lesson which Romanists might derive from this period of prostitution is humility and charity. It is a terrible rebuke to pretensions of superior sanctity.

276  Baronius, following Liutprand, calls Sergius "homo vitiorum omnium servus." But Flodoard and the inscriptions give him a somewhat better character. See Hefele IV. 576, Gregorovius III. 269, and von Reumont II. 273.

277  Gfrörer makes him the paramour of the younger Theodora, which on chronological grounds is more probable; but Hefele, Gregorovius, von Peumont, and Greenwood link him with the elder Theodora. This seems to be the meaning of Liutprand (II. 47 and 48), who says that she fell in love with John for his great beauty, and actually forced him to sin (secumque hunc scortari non solum voluit, verum etiam atque etiam compulit). She could not stand the separation from her lover, and called him to Rome. Baronius treats John X. as a pseudopapa. Muratori, Duret, and Hefele dissent from Liutprand and give John a somewhat better character, without, however, denying his relation to Theodora. See Hefele, IV. 579 sq.

278  Liutprand, Antapodosis, III. 43 (Migne, l.c., 852): "Papam [John X.]custodia maniciparunt, in qua non multo post ea defunctus; aiunt enim quod cervical super os eius imponerent, sicque cum pessime su ffocarent. Quo mortuo ipsius Marotiae filium Johannem nomine [John XI.] quem ex Sergio papa meretrix genuerat, papam constituunt." The parentage of John XI. from pope Sergius is adopted by Gregorovius, Dümmler, Greenwood, and Baxmann, but disputed by Muratori, Hefele, and Gfrörer, who maintain that John XI. was the son of Marozia’s husband, Alberic I., if they ever were married. For, according to Benedict of Soracte, Marozia accepted him "non quasi uxor, sed in consuetudinem malignam." Albericus Marchio was an adventurer before he became Markgrave, about 897, and must not be confounded with Albertus Marchio or Adalbert the Rich of Tuscany. See Gregorovius, III. 275; von Reumont, II. 228, 231, and the genealogical tables in Höfler, Vol. I., Append. V. and VI.

279  See the account in Liutprand III. 44.

280  Among the charges of the Synod against him were that he appeared constantly armed with sword, lance, helmet, and breastplate, that he neglected matins and vespers, that he never signed himself with the sign of the cross, that he was fond of hunting, that he had made a boy of ten years a bishop, and ordained a bishop or deacon in a stable, that he had mutilated a priest, that he had set houses on fire, like Nero, that he had committed homicide and adultery, had violated virgins and widows high and low, lived with his father’s mistress, converted the pontifical palace into a brothel, drank to the health of the devil, and invoked at the gambling-table the help of Jupiter and Venus and other heathen demons! The emperor Otho would not believe these enormities until they, were proven, but the bishops replied, that they were matters of public notoriety requiring no proof. Before the Synod convened John XII. had made his escape from Rome, carrying with him the portable part of the treasury of St. Peter. But after the departure of the emperor he was readmitted to the city, restored for a short time, and killed in an act of adultery ("dum se cum viri cujusdam uxore oblectaret") by the enraged husband of his paramour. or by, the devil ("a diabolo est percussus"). Liutprand, De rebus gestis Ottonis (in Migne, Tom. XXXVI. 898-910). Hefele (IV. 619) thinks that he died of apoplexy.

281  A full account of this Synod see in Liutprand, De rebus gestis Ottonis, and in Baronius, Annal. ad ann 963. Comp. also Greenwood, Bk VIII. ch. 12, Gfrörer, vol. III., p. iii., 1249 sqq., Giesebrecht, I. 465 and 828, and Hefele, IV. 612 sqq. Gfrörer, without defending John XII., charges Otho with having first violated the engagement (p. 1253). The pope was three times summoned before the Synod, but the answer came from Tivoli that he had gone hunting. Baronius, Floss, and Hefele regard this synod as uncanonical.

282  Baronius, ad ann. 964, pronounced the document spurious, chiefly because it is very inconvenient to his ultramontane doctrine. It is printed in Mon. Germ. iv.2 (Leges, II. 167), and in a more extensive form from a MS. at Treves in Leonis VIII. privilegium de investituris, by H. J. Floss, Freib., 1858. This publication has changed the state of the controversy in favor of a genuine element in the document. See the discussion in Hefele, IV. 622 sqq.

283  This antipathy found its last expression and termination in the expulsion of the Austrians from Lombardy and Venice, and the formation of a united kingdom of Italy.

284  Ditmar of Merseburg, the historian of Henry II., expresses the sentiment of that time when he says (Chron. IV. 22): "Neither the climate nor the people suit our countrymen. Both in Rome and Lombardy treason is always at work. Strangers who visit Italy expect no hospitality: everything they require must be instantly paid for; and even then they must submit to be over-reached and cheated, and not unfrequently to be poisoned after all."

285  "Quid hunc, rev. Patres, in sublimi solio residentem veste purpurea et aurea radiantem, quid hunc, inqam, esse censetis? Nimirum si caritate destituitur, solaque inflatur et extollitur, Antichristus est, in templo Dei sedens, et se ostendens tamquam sit D Eus. Si autem nec caritate fundatur, nec scientia erigitur, in templo Dei tamquam statua, tanquam idolum est, a quo responsa petere, marmora consulere est."

286  The acts of this Synod were first published in the Magdeburg Centuries, then by Mansi, Conc. XIX. 107, and Pertz, Mon. V. 658. Baronius pronounced them spurious, and interspersed them with indignant notes; but Mansi (p. 107) says: "Censent vulgo omnes, Gerbertum reipsa et sincere recitasse acta concilii vere habiti." See Gieseler, Greenwood (Book VIII. ch. 6), and Hefele (IV. 637 sqq.). Hefele pronounces the speech schismatical.

287  He is called Crescentius de Theodora, and seems to have died in a convent about 984. Some make him the son of Pope John X. and the elder Theodora, others, of the younger Theodora. See Gregorovius, III. 407 sqq; von Reumont, II. 292 sqq.; and the genealogy of the Crescentii in Höfler, I. 300.

288  Gerbert (afterwards pope Sylvester II.) called this Bonifacius a "Malefactor," (Malifacius) and "horrendum monstrum, cunctos mortales nequitia superans, etiam prioris pontificis sanguine cruentus."Gregorovius, III. 410.

289  The Tusculan family claimed descent from Julius Caesar and Octavian. See Gregorovius, IV. 10, and Giesebrecht II. 174; also the genealogical table of Höfler at the close of Vol. I.

290  Baronius, however, says that Stephen VIII. (939-942) was a German, and for this reason opposed by the Romans. Bruno was only twenty-four years old when elected. Höfler (I. 94 sqq.) gives him a very high character.

291  See preceding section, p. 290.

292  According to several Italian writers he was poisoned by Stephania, under the disguise of a loving mistress, in revenge of the murder of Crescentius, her husband. Muratori and Milman accept the story, but it is not mentioned by Ditmar (Chron. IV. 30), and discredited by Leo, Gfrörer, and Greenwood. Otho had restored to the son of Stephania all his father’s property, and made him prefect of Rome. The same remorseless Stephania is said to have admininistered subtle poison to pope Sylvester II.

293  See Gfrörer, III. P. III. 1550 sq. He regards Sylvester II. one of the greatest of popes and statesmen who developed all the germs of the system, and showed the way to his successors. Comp. on him Milman, Bk. V. ch. 13; Giesebrecht, I. 613 sqq. and 690 sqq.

294  His historian, bishop Thitmar or Ditmar of Merseburg, relates that Henry never held carnal intercourse with his wife, and submitted to rigid penances and frequent flagellations for the subjugation of animal passions. But Hase (§ 160, tenth ed.) remarks: "Die Mönche, die er zu Gunsten der Bisthümer beraubt hat, dachten ihn nur eben von der Hölle gerettet; auch den Heiligenschein der jungfraeulichen Kaiserinhat der Teufel zu verdunkeln gewusst." Comp. C. Schurzfleisch, De innocentia Cunig., Wit., 1700. A. Noel, Leben der heil. Kunigunde, Luxemb. 1856. For a high and just estimate of Henry’s character see Giesebrecht II. 94-96. "The legend," he says, "describes Henry as a monk in purple, as a penitent with a crown, who can scarcely drag along his lame body; it places Kunigunde at his side not as wife but as a nun, who in prayer and mortification of the flesh seeks with him the path to heaven. History gives a very different picture of king Henry and his wife. It bears witness that he was one of the most active and energetic rulers that ever sat on the German throne, and possessed a sharp understanding and a power of organization very rare in those times. It was a misfortune for Germany that such a statesman had to spend most of his life in internal and external wars. Honorable as he was in arms, he would have acquired a higher fame in times of peace."

295  Rodulfus Glaber, Histor. sui temporis, IV. 5 (in Migne, Tom. 142, p. 979): "puer ferme (fere) decennis;" but in V. 5: "fuerat sedi ordinatus quidam puer circiter annorum duodecim, contra jus nefasque." Hefele stated, in the first ed. (IV. 673), that Benedict was eighteen when elected. In the second ed. (p. 706) he corrects himself and makes him twelve years at his election.

296  Isa. 3:1-4.

297  Gregorovius, IV. 42, says: "Mit Benedict IX. erreichte das Papstthum aussersten Grad des sittlichen Verfalls, welcher nach den Gesetzen der menschlichen Natur den Umschlag zum Bessern erzeugt."

298  Bonitho, ed. Jaffé p. 50: "Post multa turpia adulteria et homicidia manibus Buis perpetrata, postremo cum vellet consobrinam accipere coniugem, filiam scilicet Girardi de Saxo, et ille diceret: nullo modo se daturum nisi renunciaret pontificatui ad quendam sacerdotem Johannem se contulit." A similar report is found in the Annales Altahenses. But Steindorff and Hefele ([V. 707) discredit the marriage project as a malignant invention or fable.

299  An old catalogue of popes (in Muratori, Script. III. 2, p. 345) states the sum as mille librae denariorum Papensium, but Benno as librae mille quingentae. Others give two thousand pounds as the sum. Otto of Freising adds that Benedict reserved besides the Peter’s pence from England. See Giesebrecht, II. 643, and Hefele IV. 707.

300  Migne, Tom. 141, p. 1343. Steindorff and Hefele (IV. 708) dissent from this usual view of a three-fold schism, and consider Gregory, as the only pope. But all three were summoned to the Synod of Sutri and deposed; consequently they must all have claimed possession.

301  The sources differ in the distribution of the work between the two synods: some assign it to Sutri, others to Rome, others divide it. Steindorff and Hefele (IV. 710) assume that Gregory and Sylvester were deposed at Sutri; Benedict (who did not appear at Sutri) was deposed in Rome. All agree that the new pope was elected in Rome.

302  See Jaffé, Steindorff, and Hefele (IV. 711 sq.).

303  According to the Annal. Corb., Suidger was elected "canonice as synodice … unanimi cleri et populi electione."

304  So says Wibert, his friend and biographer, but Bonitho reports that Hildebrand induced him to submit first to a Roman election, since a pope elected by the emperor was not an apostolicus, but an apostaticus. See Baxmann, II. 215-217. Comp. also Hunkler: Leo IX. und seine Zeit. Mainz, 1851