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Book VIII
Chapter 12

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Italy and Her Invaders

by
Thomas Hodgkin


2nd edition
Oxford University Press
London
1896

The text, and illustrations except as noted,
are in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
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Book VIII
Chapter 14

Book VIII (continued)

Vol. VII
p342
Chapter XIII

The Accession of Pope Hadrian

Source: —

The Liber Pontificalis.

Violent deeds of Paulus Afiarta. Pope Stephen III died, as we have seen, on the 3rd of February, 772. The waves of strife which had tossed him to and fro during his short and troubled pontificate were still raging round his death‑bed. To the fierce and unscrupulous Paulus Afiarta it was a matter of life and death to preserve the ascendency of the Lombard faction and to crush any attempt of the Roman or Frankish parties to elect a Pope who would reverse the recently-adopted policy. Many of the clergy and civil magistrates of the City were sent into exile, even while Stephen III was dying, and a more terrible vengeance was taken on the hapless Sergius, who, though blinded and in prison, was still formidable to the imagination of Paulus. There seems to have been a junta of counsellors who at this time of crisis wielded all the power of the dying Pope. They were Paulus himself (who held the office of chamberlain), John the dux Romae (who was brother of the Pope, and whose implication in these deeds of violence renders it probable that Stephen himself had really concurred in the recent revolution), Gregory the defensor regionarius, and another chamberlain  p343 named Calvulus.1 Murder of Sergius. These men signed an order to the warders of the prisons in the Lateran2 for the delivery of the body of the captive Sergius. In the first hour of the night, eight days before the Pope's death, Calvulus presented himself at the dungeon door with two men of Anagni, Lumisso a priest and Leonatius a military officer,3 and obtained possession of the person of the blind captive. The course of the narrative looks as if the two men of Anagni had some private resentment of their own to gratify by the murder of the fallen minister. However this may be, he was straightway slain and buried in a street close to the Arch of Gallienus.

Happily for the fame of the Holy See, these unscrupulous attempts to silence the voice of opposition to Paulus Afiarta and his party were not successful. We may perhaps conjecture that if there was a Lombard party in the Papal Curia represented by Paulus, and a Frankish party of which Christopher and Sergius had been the heads, there was also a Roman party representing the best traditions both of the City and the Church, who were determined that the most exalted office of Christendom should no longer be made the prize of victory in the bloody strife of cubicularii and primicerii. It was probably the voice of this respectable middle party which secured the election of one of the greatest Popes of the eighth century.

Election of Hadrian I, Feb. 9, 772. Hadrian I, son of Theodore, was a pure Roman by birth, born at a house in the Via Lata, near to where the modern Corso opens out into the piazza di Venezia. His parents, who belonged to the highest  p344 nobility of Rome, died in his childhood, and he was brought up in the house of his uncle Theodotus, who had been formerly consul and duke, but afterwards filled the office of primicerius of the Roman Church. Hadrian grew up, a young man of handsome presence and generous and manly character, conspicuous while still a layman for his devout attendance at the neighbouring church of St. Mark, his almsgiving, his austerities, his study of the canons of the Church. Such a man, in the intellectual atmosphere of Rome, was naturally attracted within the ecclesiastical orbit. At the urgent invitation of Pope Paul he became first notarius regionarius, then sub‑dean; and the succeeding Pope Stephen III advanced him to the rank of deacon, and admitted him to his intimate confidence. Though the biographer speaks of the devotion to study which marked him from his earliest youth, his learning, if measured by classical standards, would probably have been found woefully deficient. His letters, contained in the Codex Carolinus, swarm with grammatical blunders of which a schoolboy would be ashamed: and this is the more extraordinary, because (as was explained in an earlier volume)4 Hadrian was the Pope by whose orders the letters of his renowned predecessor Gregory I were collected into the great Register in which most of them have become known to later ages. And those letters, though not written exactly in the style of Cicero or even of the younger Pliny, are at least free from the solecisms which disfigure the letters of Hadrian. However, 'in the country of the blind the one‑eyed man is king,' and in the dense ignorance which prevailed at Rome in  p345 the middle of the eighth century Hadrian seems to have been reputed a learned man. He soon became a great and popular preacher, and this undoubted popularity caused him to be elected (9th of February, 772) as successor of Stephen III on the Papal throne.

He emancipates himself from Paulus Afiarta. The new Pope at once showed that he did not intend to be a mere instrument in the hands of Paulus Afiarta. On the very day of his election, even before his consecration, he ordered — and this prompt exercise of his power shows how truly monarchical was now the Papal character — that all the nobles of Church and State whom Paulus had banished from the City should be at once invited to return, and that all the political prisoners should be liberated. For the hapless Sergius, whom men doubtless expected to see now emerging from the dungeons of the Lateran, the order of release came too late.

Anxiety of Desiderius at the new turn of affairs. Desiderius heard with concern that a new Pope who was not amenable to the counsels of his partisan was sitting in the palace of the Lateran. He sent an embassy, consisting of Theodicius duke of Spoleto, Tunno duke of Ivrea, and Prandulus the keeper of his wardrobe,5 to propose a renewal of the same friendly relations which had of late subsisted between Pavia and Rome. The speech in which Hadrian replied to the smooth words of these ambassadors was one of startling and undiplomatic frankness. Hadrian's reply to Desiderius. 'I for my part wish to live in peace with all Christians, including your king Desiderius, and in that covenant of peace which hath been established between Romans, Franks and Lombards I shall study to abide. But how can I trust that same king of yours when I remember  p346 what my predecessor in this office, lord Stephen of pious memory, told me confidentially concerning his broken faith. For he told me that he had lied to him in everything which he had promised with an oath on the body of the blessed Peter, as to restoring the rights of God's holy Church: and further that it was only the persuasion of the unjust arguments of the same Desiderius that he caused the eyes of Christopher and Sergius to be dug out, and executed the will of the Lombard on those two officers of the Church.'

(It was not therefore wholly without the consent of Stephen III that that barbarous deed was done.)

'And in this way he caused us great harm and loss, for [the alleged reconciliation] brought no advantage at all to the apostolic cause. All this my predecessor, for the love which he bore unto me in my humble station, confided unto me: and moreover he shortly after sent unto him his own messengers,6 exhorting him to fulfil his promises to St. Peter. But this was the [insulting] reply which those messengers brought back with them: —

' "It is enough for the apostolic Stephen that I have cut off Christopher and Sergius from the world, since they were domineering over him. He need not talk about recovering the rights of the Church; for if I do not myself help the apostolic man, he himself will soon be ruined, since Carloman, king of the Franks, the still surviving friend of Christopher and Sergius, is making ready an army to avenge their fate by marching to Rome and taking the pontiff himself captive."

 p347  'That was his reply. Lo! there you have the honour of King Desiderius and the measure of the confidence that I may repose in him.'

After Hadrian had liberated his soul by this outburst, the Lombard emissaries assured him with solemn oaths that their master was this time in earnest in his desire for a league of amity with the Holy See, and would purchase it by the surrender of all the territory for which Pope Stephen had striven. Once again the blandishments of the Lombard prevailed. Hadrian believed their words, and sent two ambassadors, of whom Paulus Afiarta was one, to receive the surrender of the desired territory.7

Desiderius resumes the last surrendered cities. Hardly, however, had the Papal messengers reached Perugia on their journey towards the Exarchate when they learned that Desiderius, far from preparing to cede any more cities to the Roman See, had appropriated Faenza, Ferrara and Comacchio, that is, had resumed possession of the cities which he surrendered in 757, and had added thereto Comacchio, which formed part of the territory ceded by Aistulf to Pippin's representative in 756. The faithlessness, and more than that, the inconsistency, the childish levity of purpose which characterise these Lombard kings, exasperate the chronicler of their deeds and make him almost ready to acquiesce in the 'unspeakable' names hurled at them by Papal biographers.

It may be suggested with some probability that the cause of this sudden change of front on the part of  p348 Desiderius was the arrival of the widow and children of Carloman at the Lombard court. To understand the bearing of this event we must go back to the closing month of 771, in which the opportune death of Carloman relieved the Frankish world of the fear of a civil war between the two brothers. Charles's measures were taken with such exceeding promptitude as to suggest the thought that his plans had been matured while Carloman was dying. He hastened to Carbonacum,8 a royal 'villa' in Champagne, just over the frontier, and there met a number of the most eminent nobles and ecclesiastics of his late brother's kingdom. Chief among them were the venerable Fulrad, abbot of S. Denis, and Wilchar, archbishop of Sens,9 both of whom had often carried Pippin's messages to Rome. Carloman had left two infant sons, and the claims of both of these to share their father's inheritance were doubtless discussed in the assembly of Carbonacum. But the evil result of these divisions of the kingdom was too obvious, the lately impending danger of civil war was too terrible. The majority of the counsellors of the late king gave their voices for reunion under Charles, who celebrated his Christmas at Attigny as sole lord of all the Frankish dominions.

Carloman's widow Gerberga retires to the court of Desiderius. On learning the decision of the assembly, Gerberga, the widow of Carloman, taking with her the two infant princes, crossed the Alps and sought shelter  p349 at the court of Desiderius. With her went some, apparently not a large number, of the courtiers of her late husband, pre‑eminent among whom was Duke Autchar, the same doubtless who eighteen years before had escorted Stephen II on his memorable journey into Italy. King Charles, we are told, took very patiently his sister-in‑law's flight to the court of his enemy, though he considered it 'superfluous,' or, as a modern would probably express the matter, 'in bad taste.'10º

Hostile policy of Desiderius. The arrival of Gerberga with her children and counsellors put a new weapon in the hand of Desiderius for revenge on the husband of his daughter. For to that revenge all calculations of mere policy had now to yield, the pale figure of the divorced and uncrowned queen of the Franks, 'not quite a widow, yet but half a wife,' being ever in his sight and mutely appealing for the redress of her wrongs. Nor as a question of mere policy did the scheme which now shaped itself in his mind seem an unwise one. If he could have Carloman's children (the sole strictly legitimate heirs of Pippin, since Charles was not born in wedlock) confirmed in the succession to their father's kingdom; a barrier thus erected between him and the Austrasian king; his son-in‑law Tassilo of Bavaria united to him, both by kinship and alliance; Desiderius might reasonably reckon on being left at liberty to pursue his designs for the subjugation of the whole of Italy, unhindered by meddlers from beyond the Alps. Obviously the doubtful element in the calculation was the degree of support which  p350 Gerberga could obtain in Frank-land itself for the claims of her infant sons. The chances of that support were no doubt over-estimated both by her and by her right-hand man, Autchar; but when have the exiled pretenders to a throne rightly calculated the chances of a Restoration?

Desiderius and Pope Hadrian. For the fulfilment of the designs of Desiderius it was desirable that he should make the Pope his confederate, in order to obtain the religious sanction conveyed by his consecration of the infant princes as kings of the Franks. The Lombard king evidently hoped to wrest this concession from the Pope by the same mixture of flattery and intimidation which had been so successful with his predecessor. He had yet to learn how different from the wavering will of Stephen III was the steadfast mind of Hadrian.

It was doubtless in order to execute these projects that Desiderius, not two months after the accession of Hadrian, made that fierce dash across the Apennines in the course of which, as already related, he wrested from the Roman See its newly-acquired cities of Faenza, Ferrara and Comacchio. At the same time the territory round Ravenna was ravaged by the Lombards, who ransacked the farms and cottages, and carried off the herds of cattle and the slaves of the farmers and the stored‑up provisions of the peasants. Two tribunes11 brought to Hadrian from Leo the new archbishop of Ravenna the tidings of these outrages, with a piteous appeal for help, 'since no hope of living was left to him or his people.'

A fresh embassy from the Pope — since the mission of Paulus Afiarta and his colleague had proved so  p351 fruitless — brought to Desiderius the grave rebuke of Hadrian for these repeated outrages and violations of his promise. And now in his answer to this embassy the Lombard king showed at what he was aiming: 'Let the Pope come to hold a conference with me, and I will restore all those cities which I have taken.' The Papal messengers, who doubtless saw Gerberga and Autchar at the court of Pavia, perceived that this personal conference would involve a request or a command to anoint with the holy oil the children of Carloman.

Intrigues of Paulus Afiarta. Meanwhile what was Paulus Afiarta, so lately the omnipotent minister of the Pope, doing at the court of his friend Desiderius? He lingered on there, perhaps conscious of the peril which awaited him at Rome, but seeking by braggart words to reassure the king as to his undiminished credit at the Papal court: 'You desire, O king, to have colloquy with our lord Hadrian. Trust me to bring it to pass. If needs be, I will tie a rope to his feet, but I will by all means bring him into your presence.' And so saying he started on his return journey to Rome.

Enquiry into the murder of Sergius. At Rome, meanwhile, in the absence of Paulus Afiarta, the murmurs and the suspicions caused by the disappearance of Sergius had grown stronger and stronger. At last the Pope summoned all the keepers of the cellarium in the Lateran and began a formal enquiry into the fate of their late prisoner. The warrant for his delivery to the chamberlain Calvulus was produced, and he, being questioned, admitted having transferred Sergius to the keeping of the two men of Anagni. They were sent for from Campania, brought into the Papal presence, and, apparently,  p352 examined by torture.12 Thus urged they confessed that they had slain Sergius, and were sent, under the guard of some of the Pope's most trusted servants, to show his place of burial. They came to the Merulana, to the Arch of Gallienus, near to which they dug for a little while, and then showed the guard the body of the ill‑fated secundicerius, his neck bound tight with a rope and all his body gashed with wounds. Whereupon the beholders concluded that he had been suffocated, and then buried while still alive.

Punishment of the murderers. The bodies of the two fallen ministers Christopher and Sergius were now taken up and buried with honour in the basilica of St. Peter. The sight of the mangled body of Sergius stirred his late colleagues, the officials of the Church and State,13 to such a passion of indignation that they with a whole crowd of the commonalty of Rome rushed to the Lateran Palace and clamorously besought the pontiff to take summary vengeance on the torturers and murderers of a blind prisoner. Accordingly Calvulus the chamberlain and the two men of Anagni being handed over to the secular arm, as represented by the Prefect of the City, were led down to the public prison14 and there examined in the presence of the people. The meaner criminals, the two men of Anagni, repeating the same confession  p353 which they had already made in presence of the Pope, were transported to Constantinople, there to be dealt with as should seem fitting to the Emperor. Of their further fate we hear nothing. Calvulus refused to confess his share in the crime, and, as we are told, 'expired by a cruel death in prison.'15 Probably this means that he died under the torture which failed to extract the desired confession.

Two men, who from their exalted position deserved the severest punishment of all, Duke John the late Pope's brother and Gregory the defensor regionarius, seem from the Papal biographer's silence as to their cases to have been left unmolested. Fate of Paulus Afiarta. But for Paulus Afiarta, the friend of the Lombard, the recreant servant of the Pope, another fate was in store. He had already left Pavia, and had been arrested by the Pope's orders at Rimini, the reason for that detention being apparently his treasonable practices with the Lombard. Now the minutes of the proceedings during the enquiry into the murder of Sergius were forwarded to Archbishop Leo at Ravenna, with instructions to deal with the case according to the ordinary course of justice. On receipt of these instructions the archbishop handed the prisoner over to the consularis of Ravenna, the officer who, now that the Exarch was gone, appears to have wielded the highest secular authority in the city. A public examination took place; the minutes forwarded from Rome were read; Paulus Afiarta confessed his guilt. The Roman pontiff expected that his brother at Ravenna would make a formal report of the case to him, but the archbishop having now got an old enemy into his power had no  p354 intention of allowing him to escape out of his hands. In these circumstances, strange to say, Pope Hadrian, who seems to have been sincerely anxious to save the life of Paulus though desiring his punishment, tried the desperate expedient of an appeal to Constantinople. To Constantine Copronymus and his son Leo, now associated with him in the Empire, he sent a memorandum16 setting forth the crime of Paulus, and praying them to arrest him and keep him in close confinement in 'the regions of Greece.'17 A chaplain18 named Gregory, who was being despatched to Pavia on one of the usual embassies of complaint to Desiderius, was instructed to halt at Ravenna and give to Archbishop Leo the necessary orders for the transmission of the culprit to Constantinople on board a Venetian vessel. The archbishop, however, somewhat insolently replied that it would be a mistake to send Paulus Afiarta to Venetia, since Maurice the duke of that district was in anxiety about his son, a captive in the hands of Desiderius, and would be tempted to make an exchange of prisoners, surrendering Paulus to his Lombard friend and receiving back his son. The Papal messenger proceeded on his journey, after giving a solemn charge to the archbishop and all the magistrates of Ravenna that not a hair of the prisoner's head was to be touched: but on his return from Pavia he found that the consularis, by order of the archbishop, had put Paulus Afiarta to death. Great was his indignation at this  p355 act of disobedience to his master, and sharply was it expressed. Archbishop Leo, perhaps somewhat terrified by the thought of what he had done, wrote to Hadrian praying for a consoling assurance that he had not sinned in avenging the innocent blood. He received however only a curt reply: 'Let Leo consider for himself what he has done to Paulus. I wished to save his soul, by enjoining him to lead a life of penance, and gave my orders to my chaplain accordingly.'19

The proceedings in this complicated affair are narrated in the Liber Pontificalis with a tedious minuteness which suggests the probability that the chaplain Gregory himself composed this part of the narrative and desired to clear himself and his master of all complicity in the death of Paulus Afiarta. The narrative however is not without its value, since it shows that still, so late as the year 772, the Pope was willing to recognise a certain jurisdiction over Roman citizens as vested in the Emperors at Constantinople, heretics and iconoclasts though they might be. It also illustrates the growing independence of the archbishops of Ravenna and their determination not to acknowledge the bishops of Rome as their superiors in any but purely ecclesiastical concerns.

Raid of Desiderius into the Pentapolis, The fall of Paulus Afiarta destroyed the last link between the Roman pontiff and the Lombard king. The latter now pursued without check or disguise his  p356 brutal policy of forcing the pope to become his instrument by despoiling him of his domains. The summer and autumn of 77220 were occupied by a campaign — if we should not rather call it a raid — on two sides of the Papal territory. In the Pentapolis the Lombards seized Sinigaglia, Iesi, Urbino, Gubbio, Mons Fereti21 and several other 'Roman' cities.22 In fact, when we consider how much Desiderius had abstracted before, we may doubt whether in these Adriatic regions any city of importance was left to St. Peter except Ravenna and Rimini. This raid was accompanied, as we are told and we can well believe it, by many homicides, many conflagrations, and the carrying off of much plunder.

and into the Ducatus Romae. Even more insulting and more ruthless were the proceedings of the Lombard ravagers in the near neighbourhood of Rome. Blera,23 only thirty miles north-west of Rome, was one of the four cities which thirty years before had been surrendered by the great Liutprand to Zacharias after the conference at Terni. It was assuredly the act of a madman, made 'fey' by the shadow of approaching doom, to harry the lands which his great predecessor had formally handed over to St. Peter's guardianship. Yet the word of command having been given, the rough Lombard militia of Tuscany24 poured into the territory of Blera, while the citizens, with their wives, their children, and their  p357 servants were engaged in the peaceful labours of the harvest. The invaders slew the chief men of the city (who were probably foremost in resisting the invasion), ravaged the country all round with fire and sword, and drove off a multitude of captives and of cattle into the land of the Lombards. Several other cities of the Ducatus Romae suffered more or less from similar depredations, and Otricoli on the Via Flaminia, a stage nearer to Rome than Narni, was occupied by the Lombard host.

Insolent diplomacy of Desiderius. While these deed of lawless aggression were being perpetrated, the insolent diplomacy of Desiderius also held on its course.25 Several times did his messengers, Andrew the referendarius and Stabilis the duke, appear at the Lateran desiring the Pope to come and talk with their master 'on equal terms.'26 The answer  p358 of Hadrian was firm and dignified: 'Tell your king that I solemnly promise in the presence of the Almighty, that if he will restore those cities which in my pontificate he has abstracted from St. Peter, I will at once hasten into his presence wheresoever he shall choose to appoint the interview, whether at Pavia, Ravenna, Perugia, or here at Rome; that so we may confer together about the things which concern the safety of the people of God on both sides of the frontier. And if he have any doubt of my keeping this engagement, I say at once that if I do not meet him in conference he has my full leave to re‑occupy those cities. But if he does not first restore what he has taken away, he shall never see my face.' There spoke the worthy successor of Leo and of Gregory, the truly Roman pontiff, who showed that a citizen of the seven-hilled City had not quite forgotten the old lesson 'to spare the fallen and warº down the proud.' In truth this year 772, which might have been the Lombard's great opportunity, had he known how to use it, was the year which brought out in strongest relief what there was truly heroic in Hadrian's character. We hear at this time of no cry for help to Frankish Charles. Both Hadrian and Desiderius knew full well that such a cry would have been uttered in vain, Charles begins the Thirty Years' War with the Saxons. for Charles had now begun that which was to prove the hardest and longest enterprise of his life, the subjugation and conversion to Christianity of the fierce Saxon tribes who dwelt in the regions which are now called Hanover and Oldenburg, on the north-eastern frontier of the Frankish kingdom. Though in the course of Charles's great career he was eventually carried across the Alps and the Pyrenees, though the Voltorno and  p359 the Ebro saw the waving of his standards, his heart seems to have been always in his own native Austrasia, and his conception of his kingly duties was connected much more with the civilisation of Central Europe than with the extension of his dominions along the shores of the Mediterranean. Thus it was that, carrying forward the policy of his father and the preaching of St. Boniface, he determined that heathenism should cease throughout Saxon-land, and devoted the first energies of his kingdom, when consolidated by the death of Carloman, to the attainment of that great object. Assuredly the work took longer time than he had expected. It began in 772, and was not completed till 804, after thirty‑two years of almost incessant war. Possibly, had he known how long a road lay before him, he might never have entered upon the journey: but if so, it is fortunate for Europe that the future was hidden from his eyes, for however ruthless were some of his methods, however ghastly some pages of his slaughterous evangel, there can be no doubt that, in one way or another, the work had to be done, and that the world is better for the doing of it. If therefore, from an Italian point of view, Charles's action shall sometimes seem to us fitful, capricious, and lacking in unity of design, we must remember that during all the years of his vigorous manhood this arduous Saxon problem was absorbing the best energies of his body and soul.

Placitum at Worms, 772. Intent on his great design Charles summoned his placitum — or, as we may call it, using the language of later centuries, the diet of his kingdom — to meet at Worms, probably in the early summer. From thence he advanced into the land of the Saxons, accompanied  p360 not only by his stalwart Frankish soldiers, but by bishops, abbots and presbyters — a numerous train of the tonsured ones.27 Invasion of Saxonia. There were three great divisions of the Saxon people, the Angarii in the middle of the country, the Westfali on their western, the Ostfali on their eastern border. Charles marched against the Angarii, laid waste their land with fire and sword, and took their stronghold, Eresburg on the Diemel. Destruction of the Irminsul. From thence he marched to the Irminsul, a gigantic tree-trunk in a dense forest, which had been fashioned into a resemblance of the ash Yggdrasil of the Edda, the supporter and sustainer of the universe, and which was the object of the idolatrous veneration of the Saxons. Having hewn down the tree-idol he remained three days near the scene of his triumph. But a great drought prevailed in the land, and the army suffered grievously for want of water. The drought might be interpreted by the outraged idolaters as evidence of the anger of the gods; but the torrent which burst forth from the mountain's side and saved the whole army from perishing of thirst was a clear indication that the Christian's God was mightier than they. In these labours and dangers the campaigning season of 772 passed away: Charles having carried his standards triumphantly to the Weser, returned to Austrasia and celebrated his Christmas at Heristal in Brabant. The months of February and March (773) he spent at the villa of Theodo in the valley of the Moselle, sixteen miles north of Metz.

The Pope's messenger at Thionville, 773. To this place, (which is now called Thionville by the French and Diedenhofen by the Germans), in one of those winter months at the beginning of 773, came  p361 the Pope's messenger Peter,28 with a piteous cry for help. Embassy after embassy had been sent in vain to Desiderius to beseech him to restore the captured cities, and had only been answered by further outrages on the Roman territory and by an announcement of his determination to march upon Rome itself. So closely were the roads beset that Peter found it necessary to make his journey by sea from the mouth of the Tiber to Marseilles.

Desiderius marches on Rome, March (?), 773. Even while Peter was pleading the Papal cause at Thionville, Desiderius in fulfilment of his threat was moving towards Rome. Taking with him his son Adelchis, who had been for more than thirteen years the partner of his throne,29 and the widow and children of Carloman with their counsellor Autchar, he marched southward at the head of his army.30 He sent forward his messengers, Andrew and two other Lombard nobles, to inform the Pope of his approach, and received the answer, already repeated to weariness, 'Unless he first repairs the wrongs done to St. Peter, he shall not be admitted to my presence.' Still Desiderius pressed forward, and it seemed clear that an armed invasion of the Ducatus Romae was imminent. In Roman Tuscany, in Campania, and in Perugia, something like a levée en masse was made, and even from the cities of the Pentapolis,31 notwithstanding the  p362 presence of the Lombard garrisons, some men came to help in the defence of the threatened pontiff. The two great basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul, being without the gates, were emptied of their most costly treasures, which were brought within the City, and the doors of St. Peter's were closed and barred with iron, to prevent the Lombard king from entering the church, as he probably intended, in order to carry the election of an anti-pope and the anointing by him of the infant princes.32 The great gates of the City had already some months before been closed, and small wicket-gates had been opened in them for the passage to and fro of the citizens.33

Having made all these material preparations, Hadrian began to ply the spiritual artillery which had so often proved the best defence of Rome. Three ecclesiastics, the bishops of Albano, Palestrina and Tivoli, sallied forth from the City to the Lombard camp, and there presented to Desiderius the Pope's 'word of anathema, protesting against him by that word of command and exhortation, and adjuring him by all the divine mysteries that he should by no means presume to enter the territories of the Romans, nor to tread their soil, neither he nor any of the Lombards, nor yet Autchar the Frank.'

Desiderius shrinks back before the Papal anathema. Wonderful to relate, this 'word of anathema' was sufficient to foil the whole scheme of invasion. 'As  p363 soon as he had received this word of command from the aforesaid bishops, Desiderius returned immediately with great reverence and full of confusion from the city of Viterbo to his own home.' Either he had overrated his own and his soldiers' courage in the face of the terrors of hell with which he and they were threatened, or he found that the levée en masse of Roman citizens would make his task more difficult than he had anticipated, or at last when too late he shrank from encountering the wrath of the Frankish king. For Charles was now evidently at liberty to attend to the affairs of Italy. Charles's envoys to the Pope. In reply to the embassy of Peter he despatched three envoys to Rome, the bishop George, the abbot Gulfard, and his own intimate friend34 Albuin, to enquire into the truth of the Pope's charges against Desiderius. These men satisfied themselves that the Lombard king's assertions that he had already restored the cities and satisfied all the just claims of St. Peter were impudently false. They heard from his own lips the surly statement that he would restore nothing at all, and with this answer they returned to their master, who was probably at this time keeping his Easter-feast at the ancestral villa of Heristal. They carried also the Pope's earnest entreaties that Charles would fulfil the promises made by his father of pious memory, and complete the redemption of the Church of God by insisting on the restoration of the cities and the surrender of all the remaining territory claimed by St. Peter.


The Author's Notes:

1 Or Calventzulus.

2 'Cellararii.'

3 'Tribunus.'

4 Vol. V p334.

5 'Vestararius.'

6 Viz. Anastasius, first defensor, and Gemmulus, subdeacon.

7 Paulus is here called cubicularius and superista, the latter term signifying, according to Duchesne, 'chief of the military household.' The other messenger was Stephen, notarius regionarius et sacellarius.

8 Now Corbeny, in the department of the Aisne, not far from Laon.

9 So I think we must read, substituting Senonensem for the Sedunensem (bishop of Sitten) which the text of Einhardi Annales gives us. Is it possible, however, that the other Wilhar or Wilchar, bishop of Nomentum, had settled north of the Alps and received this Burgundian bishopric of Sitten?

10 'Rex autem profectionem eorum in Italiam quasi supervacuam patienter tulit.' Einhardi Annales, s. a. 771.

11 Peter and Vitalian.

12 'Fortiter constricti.'

13 'Universi primati ecclesiae et judices militiae.'

14 'Deductique Elephanto in carcere publico.' The Elephas Herbarius (probably a statue of an elephant erected in the vegetable market) stood between the Capitoline Hill and the Tiber, close to the Forum Olitorium, south-east of the Theatre of Marcellus. The remembrance of the prison mentioned above is preserved in the name of the adjoining church, S. Niccolo in Carcere (Duchesne, Lib. Pont. I.515).

Thayer's Note: See the entry in Platner & Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

15 'Qui tamen in eodem carcere crudeli morte amisit spiritum.'

16 'Suggestio.'

17 Probably a general expression for that which it is now the fashion to call 'the Balkan peninsula.'

18 'Sacellarius.' With Gregory was joined Aroald, chartularius of the City of Rome. We note with interest a man with a Lombard name in the Papal service.

19 'Ita illi dirigens in responsis "quod ipse videat quid in eodem Paulo operatus est. Nam certè ego animam ejus salvare cupiens, poenitentiae eum summitti decreveram. Ideo meum sacellarium direxi huc Romam eum deferendum." ' This last clause (which I have ventured to vary in my translation) does not correspond with the biographer's own account of the orders given to the sacellarius.

20 Apparently, but the Papal biographer's indications of time are very meagre.

21 Now San Leo, a little west of S. Marino.

22 'Caeterarum civitatum Romanorum.' It is noteworthy that they are still called 'of the Romans,' not Papal or ecclesiastical, or any word of that kind.

23 Now Bieda.

Thayer's Note: In the first half of the 20c, the name of the town was reverted to Blera.

24 'Generalis exercitus partium Tusciae.'

25 It does not seem worth while to load the text with the names — generally mere names to us — of the envoys who passed backwards and forwards between Hadrian and Desiderius in 772 and 773.

They are as follows: —

From the Pope, 'Probatus, abbot of the monastery of the Mother of God in the Sabine territory, sent with twenty of his older monks to Desiderius on a mission of entreaty.'

From Desiderius, 'Andrew the Referendarius and Stabilis the Duke.'

From the Pope, 'Pardus, Hegumenos (superior) of the [Greek] monastery of St. Sabas [on the Aventine], and Anastasius Primus Defensor.'

From Desiderius (on the way to Viterbo), 'Andrew the Referendarius' and two other Judices.

From the Pope (bearing his anathema), Eustratius, bishop of Albanum, Andrew, bishop of Praeneste, Theodosius, bishop of Tibur.

From the Pope to Charles, Peter.

From Charles to the Pope, George, bishop of some unnamed see, Wulfard, abbot of St. Martin of Tours, and Albuin, a confidant (deliciosus) of the king.

26 'Ut cum eo pariter ad loquendum deberet conjungi.'

27 Life of Sturm, c. 22 (Pertz, MonumentaII.376).

28 The name of this messenger is not mentioned by the Papal biographer, but is given us by the Annales Laurissenses.

29 Adelchis was associated in the kingship with his father between the 6th and 20th of August, 759 (see Oelsner, p440).

30 This expedition of Desiderius was probably undertaken in March, 773.

31 'Universum populum Tusciae, Campaniae et ducatus Perusini' [this special mention of the duchy of Perugia is noteworthy] 'et aliquantos de civibus Pentapoleos.'

32 The biographer does not expressly state that this was the design of Desiderius, but his language suggests the probability of the conjecture.

33 I suppose this is the biographer's meaning when he says, 'Sanctissimus Pontifex portas civitatis Romanae claudi jussit et alias ex eis fabricari fecit' (Lib. Pont. p493).

34 'Deliciosus.' Some have seen in this 'Albuinus the familiar friend of Charles,' the famous Alcuin, who was certainly also called Albinus; but though not impossible, the identification does not appear probable (cf. Abel, I.140, n. 4).


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