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Book VIII
Chapter 7

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,
please let me know!

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Book VIII
Note A

Book VIII (continued)

Vol. VII
p160
Chapter VIII

The Struggle for the Exarchate

Sources: —

The life of Pope Stephen II in the Liber Pontificalis is one of the least unsatisfactory of these papal biographies. There is of course a lavish use of epithets. The Pope is always 'most holy,' 'most blessed,' or 'quasi-angelical'; Pippin is 'most Christian,' or 'most benign'; Aistulf is 'most cruel,' 'most wicked,' 'malignant,' and 'pestiferous,' and the perpetual repetition of these adjectives makes the narrative go heavily. The entire absence of local colour in the description of the Pope's passage of the Alps during his journey makes it probable that the biographer was not one of the companions of that journey. And, as Duchesne points out, there are several inaccuracies in his account of previous negotiations between the Popes and the Austrasian Mayors. But the writer gives names and even one or two dates with apparent accuracy, and we can discover from his narrative something of the real course of events. It is however noteworthy that the territorial aggrandisement of the Papacy seems to be the only subject that interests him. Except for the foundation and repair of houses for the reception of pilgrims we hear of no other object to which the Pope's energies were directed, except the acquisition of the Exarchate.

The Codex Carolinus, or collection of the letters written by the Popes to the Frankish rulers, becomes now our most important authority. This collection begins with two letters of Gregory III to Charles Martel, and one of Zacharias to Pippin. The remaining  p161 ninety‑six are addressed either to Pippin or to his son Charles, and are the production of the Popes from Stephen II to Hadrian inclusive. It is a great misfortune for us that we do not possess the answers of the Frankish kings; still even without these the letters, when carefully arranged as far as may be in chronological order, give us most valuable information as to the relations between the Popes and their Frankish patrons. The originals of the letters were probably written on paper, according to the custom then prevailing in the papal curia, and were therefore in danger of soon falling to pieces. Charles, as we learn from the Prologue to the Codex, had them carefully copied on parchment, 'in order,' as he says, 'that no evidence which would benefit Holy Church might be wanting to his successors.'1 One cannot, however, entirely silence the suggestion that one reason for making this collection was that Charles found Holy Church continually enlarging her ideas as to the 'justitiae beati Petri,' and that he wished to have documentary evidence of the successive bargains between himself and his papal friends.

There is only one MS. of the Codex Carolinus, dating from the close of the ninth century, and now preserved in the Imperial Library at Vienna. It has been very carefully edited by Philip Jaffé in his Monumenta Carolina (Berlin, 1867); and I quote from his edition.

Guides: —

Oelsner, Jahrbücher des Fränkischen Reichs unter Pippin. Leipzig, 1871.

The important question of the so‑called Donation of Pippin is carefully discussed by Theodor Lindner in 'Die sogenannten Schenkungen Pippins, Karls des Grossen und Ottos I' (Stuttgart, 1896), and Wilhelm Martens in Die Römische Frage (Stuttgart, 1881) and a supplement (Beleuchtung, &c.), (Munich, 1898).

Death of Pope Zacharias, March, 752. A few months after the elevation of Pippin to the royal dignity a new and a most important actor appeared upon the scene of European politics. Towards  p162 the end of March,2 752, Pope Zacharias died. Election and death of Stephen. A presbyter named Stephen was elected in his place, but on the third morning after he had taken up his quarters in the Lateran palace, on arising from sleep he was struck down by an apoplectic seizure, of which he died on the following day. The people were assembled in the basilica of S. Maria Maggiore, and chose as Pope another Stephen, who was immediately installed in the vacant see.3

Pontificate of Stephen II, 752‑757. This Pope (more correctly known as Stephen II than as Stephen III, for the short pontificate of his predecessor ought not to enter into the calculation)4 was of Roman origin, and having been early left an orphan had been brought up in the Lateran palace. He was thus emphatically the child and champion of the Papacy, apparently a man of more combative spirit and more ambitious temper than his predecessor, and was destined during the five short years of his pontificate to battle more valiantly than any who had gone before him for the ideas of temporal sovereignty and worldly dominion with which the Lateran palace was teeming.

Capture of Ravenna by the Lombards. But indeed if any such visions as those dreamed by the author of the Donation of Constantine were to become realities there was no time to lose. Already, a  p163 year before the death of Zacharias, an event had taken place which altered the whole balance of power in Italy. This was the capture of Ravenna by Aistulf, king of the Lombards. As to this event, one of such vast importance for Italy and for Europe, we are left by all the chroniclers and biographers of the time in exasperating ignorance. We know not whether the city fell by blockade or by sudden assault; nor how the marshes and canals which had protected her for so many centuries were overpassed; we do not even know the name of her last imperial governor, though as no Exarch is named after Eutychius,5 it is conjectured that he may have been this man. All that we can say with certainty is that an apparently genuine charter among the archives of the monastery of Farfa is given forth by 'Haistulfus rex' and dated by him 'Ravennae in palatio' on the 4th of July in the year 751.6

We note with some surprise the date of the downfall of Byzantine rule over Italy as exercised from Ravenna. Under many weak and inefficient emperors that rule had endured, and now under a sovereign of the strong and warlike Isaurian race, under the stern, self-sufficing and energetic Constantine Copronymus, it comes to an end. Probably the iconoclastic controversy was the chief cause of this strange result. The revolts which about 730 broke forth in Italy had indeed apparently been suppressed, but the chasm between the ruler and the ruled had probably never been closed,  p164 and Constantine V may have felt that it was better for him to devote all his energies to the defence of the East against the Saracens than to waste troops and treasure in warding off the assaults of the Lombards on a city the inhabitants of which would hail the first opportunity for escaping from under his rule.

In another aspect the date of the fall of Ravenna is a memorable one. It differs only by three years from the date before the birth of Christ which is generally assigned to the foundation of Rome. Romulus founding his little city in 754 B.C.; the Roman Empire practically extinguished in Italy in 751 A.D.; such are the two landmarks on either side of the central event in the history of the world; and the length of the long uphill road from Romulus to Augustus makes us better appreciate the often foreshortened distance from Augustus to Aistulf.

Pope and Lombard king thus left face to face in Italy. It was assuredly a mistake in Aistulf's statesmanship, however tempting might be the looseness of the Byzantine hold upon Italy, to drive the Emperor's representative out of Ravenna. The balance of power was thus destroyed; a governor in whom Liutprand had found a useful ally was removed, the Pope was relieved from what had in past days been a galling dependence on the Exarch, and he and the Lombard were now left face to face to fight out their deadly duel.

Character of Aistulf the Lombard king. What were the distinguishing characteristics of the two combatants who were thus entering the lists to strive for the sovereignty of Italy? On the one hand Aistulf, son of Duke Pemmo of Friuli and of that Griselda-like wife of his, Ratperga, who was so ashamed of her plain face and clownish figure that  p165 with exaggerated humility she begged, but vainly begged, her husband to divorce her.7 That Aistulf was a strong man and a brave soldier had been clearly shown on that great day of the battle of the Metaurus when he hurled the two Spoletan champions over the bridge.8 That he was a man of stormy and impetuous nature he manifested when, at Pavia, at the scene of his father's deposition, in his wrath at Liutprand's cold contempt he was on the point of murdering the Lombard king.9 But though he was such a sovereign as we might expect to find ruling over a still half-civilised people, the historian discovers nothing in the recorded actions of Aistulf to justify the epithets 'cruelest,' 'wickedest,' 'malignant,' 'impious,' 'most atrocious,' which are hurled thick at his head by the passionate papal biographer.10 The student of these pontifical lives soon learns that adjectives like these only mean that the Pope and the man who is thus described were striving for mastery. The laws of this king seem to show a wise and statesmanlike care for the morals of his subjects; and his numerous grants to various religious houses in his dominions prove that we are not here dealing with a determined enemy of the Catholic Church such as the Gaiseric and Huneric of an earlier century. But that which was truly blameworthy in Aistulf was that, after he had provoked a struggle, he would not accept the consequences of defeat. He was willing to promise anything when the enemy's hand was upon  p166 his throat, but as soon as the pressure was relaxed and he was left to himself he at once began to cast about for excuses for delaying or altogether evading the fulfilment of his promise. Most of us have met such persons as this in actual life, and have generally found that all their shifts and evasions only make their final fall more calamitous.11

Character of Stephen II. On the other hand stands Stephen the Roman, Pope of Rome. If I read his character aright, he was less of an ecclesiastic and more of a politician than his predecessor. In the case of Zacharias the evangelisation of Germany and the restoration of 'a godly discipline' in Gaul seem to have been the objects nearest to his heart; while to Stephen the establishment of his lordship over some of the fairest parts of Italy and the fulfilment in some degree at least of the splendid dreams of the Donation of Constantine seem to be the sole objects worth striving for. With this end in view, and knowing that he must thereby be brought sooner or later into collision with the Lombard ruler, he doubtless often meditated on the fact that his predecessor, even the unworldly and unambitious Zacharias, had provided him with a strong buckler of  p167 defence against his foes by the answer which he had given to the Frankish messengers; that Pippin, anointed king of the Franks in the name of St. Peter and by the hands of Boniface, was morally compelled to afford to the Papal See that protection which Charles Martel had refused to furnish.

The Lombard king on his side, as judged not by the passionate scribes of the Lateran but by the calm voice of History, may be held to have been pursuing not unworthy aims. The Byzantine Exarch and his train of Oriental foreigners once driven out of Italy, Ravenna and the Pentapolis firmly joined to the solid Lombard dominion north of the Po, the connection between the north and centre of Italy would be assured, the great duchies of Spoleto and Benevento would be restrained from their disloyalty, 'centrifugal' policy which could only end in disaster to the Lombard name, and the successors of Aistulf might one day rule over a harmonious and united Italy such as had once been so nearly formed by the wise policy of Theodoric.

Existence of a party in Rome favourable to the Lombards. We have also to observe that in all that part of Italy which had been subject to the Empire there was probably a party not unfavourable to the claims of the Lombard king. Of Rome itself it is asserted by a chronicler, who though late has some pieces of valuable information intermingled with his rubbish, that 'certain wicked men, Romans, arose and sent word to king Aistulf that he should come and take possession of the Tuscan frontier and usurp the Roman Empire.'12

 p168  However slender may be the authority for this statement, it corresponds in some measure with the probable course of events. The disturbances which will have hereafter to be related, following on the death of Pope Paul, clearly reveal the existence of a Lombardising party in the City of Rome. The two nations, Roman and Lombard, had now been in close contact for nearly two centuries. Relations of commerce, probably of intermarriage, must have grown up between them during the long years of peace. And moreover, even the rule of the Lombard king, harsh and irregular as it may have been and often exercised through corrupt instruments, may have seemed preferable to that of a college of priests or the representative of an absentee and practically powerless Emperor.

The Lombard king and the Ducatus Romae. As for the Ducatus Romae, it seems clear that the Lombard king was bent on extorting from it at least the acknowledgment of his supremacy and the payment of a poll‑tax by its inhabitants. Whether he would have gone beyond this and insisted on interfering with its internal affairs may perhaps be doubted, for these semi-barbarian conquerors were not generally great organisers or re‑modellers of the administration. To the Pope especially and to the Papal Curia we may believe that they would have left a large measure of independence if only they had been willing to acquiesce in the extension of Lombard rule over all that had been imperial Italy. Papal claims to imperial Italy. But no such life on sufferance would satisfy the present mood of the  p169 Roman pontiffs. They were determined to assert their claim to rule over all those portions of Italy which had remained imperial at the time of the Lombard invasion. So much at least should be theirs, the question as to the Lombard portions of Italy being reserved for future discussion. And these portions of Italy seem to have been claimed on some such theory as the following, and by arguments which were independent of the Donation of Constantine, though they may have usefully buttressed up the weak places in that wonderful document. 'The Pentapolis and Exarchate have hitherto belonged to the Roman Empire, though the man who now bears the title of Roman Emperor has proved himself unable to preserve them. But the Roman Empire means the Roman Republic, and the true representative of the City of Rome, if the Emperor abdicates his power, is the bishop of that City. And the bishop of Rome is the successor of St. Peter, and the Apostle from his high place in heaven watches over the interests of his successors. Therefore whosoever interferes with our claim to exercise temporal dominion over the fragments of Italy which of late were governed in the name of the Emperor at Constantinople, incurs the wrath of St. Peter, and will be shut out by the great Key‑bearer from the kingdom of heaven.'

The question was further complicated and an element of less shadowy right was given to the papal claims by the existence of the vast estates, the so‑called 'Patrimonies of St. Peter,' which were scattered far and wide over Italy, and in which the Popes exercised undoubted rights, not as sovereigns, but as proprietors. Some account of these patrimonies has  p170 already been given in connection with the history of Gregory the Great,13 and we may well believe that as the same causes which had led to their creation continued to operate, the estates of the church of Rome would be not less but far more extensive in 750 than in 600. On these estates a Lombard king, moving his armies backwards and forwards over Italy, was almost compelled to trample. Even a modern strategist, with the scientific maps of a military staff at his disposal, would not always find it easy to avoid marching through these wide-stretching patrimonies; and an army's march in those days, far more than in ours, meant inevitably more or less of devastation. Thus it would be not entirely without justification from a strictly legal point of view that after such a campaign the Pope should utter his shrill cries to his Frankish ally, calling upon him to take vengeance on the Lombard for his violation of the 'justitiae' or rights of St. Peter.

The strife between Pope and Lombard not a religious war. But in all this contest which is now looming before us there is not really any religious interest at stake. We must not of course look forward to the great religious wars of the sixteenth century; nor must we look back to the strife between Arian and Catholic in the fifth century. The Lombards are now in doctrine absolutely, in accord with the Roman Church. In their public documents they insist on calling themselves the Catholic and God‑beloved nation of the Lombards;14 and their kings (no doubt by the advice of their clerical counsellors) continually  p171 express sentiments of the most edifying piety in their charters and edicts. The opposition is not religious, but it is political and racial; the antagonism of two sovereigns, each of whom yearns to make himself lord of Italy; the loathing mingled with fear and contempt which the dainty Roman entertains for the strong, unkempt, and (as he avers) uncleanly Lombard.

It has been necessary to give this sketch of the aims and feelings of the two contending parties, because for the next twenty eventful years we shall be practically dependent on one litigant alone for the story of the great law‑suit. The lives and letters of the Popes are really our sole source for the history of the Frankish conquest of Italy. Each reader will have to judge for himself what amount of correction the statements thus delivered to us require in order to make them correspond with the veritable facts of history.

Negociations between Stephen II and Aistulf, 752. According to the papal biographer, while the newly elected Pope was attending to the philanthropic duties of his calling, founding and restoring almshouses, and providing for the maintenance of one hundred of 'Christ's poor,' a great persecution was commenced by Aistulf, king of the Lombards, in the city of Rome and the towns surrounding it. June, 752. Hereupon the most blessed Pope, in the third month from his ordination, sent messengers to conclude a treaty of peace with the Lombard king. The messengers were the Pope's brother Paul (himself one day to wear the Papal tiara), and Ambrose, a tried and trusty servant of the Lateran, who had held for many years the high place — highest among lay officials —  p172 of Primicerius Notariorum.15 They took large presents in their hands, and succeeded in concluding a treaty of peace with Aistulf for forty years, similar probably to that which Zacharias had concluded for twenty years with his brother Ratchis.

Aistulf's threatened invasion of Roman territory. Oct. 752 'But nevertheless,' says the biographer, 'that impudent king of the Lombards, tempted by the cunning of the Old Enemy,16 barely four months afterwards committed perjury and broke the treaty, inflicting divers insults on the most holy man and the whole Roman people, directing various threats against him. For in his God‑abandoned blindness he longed to invade the whole of this province [the Ducatus Romae] and to inflict a burdensome tribute on the inhabitants of this City, yearning to exact a poll‑tax of one solidus annually from every citizen, and indignantly asserting that this Roman City and the towns surrounding it were all subject to his jurisdiction.'

The reader will observe that so far we have not come to actual bloodshed. Aistulf puts forward claims to jurisdiction and taxation, which he perhaps alleges to be justified by the forty years' treaty, but he does not yet enforce them by the sword. He only  p173 'desires' and 'yearns' to do so, and with that old passionate temper of his 'indignantly' asserts what he deems to be his rights.17

Papal embassy to Aistulf. Seeing how the storm of the king's anger was brewing, the Pope sent again two messengers to appease his wrath. This time they were the abbots of the two most celebrated monasteries in Italy, that of St. Vincent on the Vulturno, and that of St. Benedict on Monte Cassino. The foundation of the latter monastery was described in a previous volume.18 The monastery of St. Vincent had been founded about half a century before the accession of Stephen II by three kinsmen, young noblemen of Benevento, named Paldo, Taso and Tato, whose adventures when they set forth from their father's houses secretly in search of holiness and solitude are told with charming naïveté by the monastic author of the Chronicon Salernitanum. Their monastery was erected in the wild Abruzzi mountains near the source of the Vulturno, and already as a home of austere saints it had acquired a renown only second to that of the great house of St. Benedict.19

'When these two abbots,' says the biographer, 'bore to the most cruel king the Pope's request that the treaty might be observed and the people of God of  p174 both parties be allowed to dwell in peace, he treated them with absolute contempt, spurning all their admonitions, and to the ruin of his own soul sent them back abashed and disappointed to their own monasteries, bidding them take notice that he would not bend in the least to the will of the aforesaid most holy Pope. Which when that eminent Father heard, he at once, according to his usual practice, commended to Almighty God his cause and the cause of the people committed to his care, suggesting his dolorous lamentation to the Divine Majesty.'20

Embassy from the Emperor Constantine V. At this point, however, there appeared upon the scene the representative of one whom raging Lombard and weeping Pope were both in danger of forgetting, the de jure lord of Ravenna and all Italy, the Emperor Constantine V.

'While these things were being done there arrived at Rome John, imperial silentiarius,21 bringing a message to the most holy Pope, and at the same time a letter of command to the aforesaid impious king that he should restore to their proper lord those territories of the Republic which he had usurped with devilish ingenuity. This imperial messenger the Pope sent, along with his brother the deacon Paul, to the most wicked Aistulf at Ravenna. When they had been received he dismissed them with an empty answer, assuring the Emperor's messenger that he would order some nefarious man of his own nation, steeped in the counsels of the devil, to hasten  p175 to the Royal City.22 They therefore returned to Rome, were presented to the Pope, and reported to him the ill success of their mission. Embassy of Stephen II to the Emperor. Then the most holy man, perceiving the intention of the malignant king, sent his own emissaries and apostolic rescripts to the Royal City, along with the Emperor's messenger, earnestly entreating the imperial clemency that (as he had often prayed him before) he would by all means come into these regions of Italy and set free the city of Rome and the whole province of Italy from the bitings of this son of iniquity.'

This passage is important as showing that now in the year 752, twenty‑six years after Leo III issued his iconoclastic decrees, the Pope still considers himself an imperial subject, and has even yet no matured design of breaking with the Byzantine Emperor, if only that Emperor will play his part properly and will deliver him from the swords of the Lombards.

Lombard threats and Roman litanies, 753 (?). The biographer continues:

'Meanwhile, the most atrocious king of the Lombards, persisting in his pernicious design, flamed into vehement fury, and roaring like a lion uttered his pestiferous threats against the Romans, vowing that they should all be butchered with one sword unless they would submit themselves to his dominion on the aforesaid terms. Then again the most holy father, having collected the whole Roman assembly, thus addressed them with paternal love: "I pray you, dearest sons, let us implore the pardon of God for our heaped‑up transgressions, and He will be our helper, and in His merciful providence will deliver us from the hands of our persecutors." Then the people, obeying his healthful counsel,  p176 assembled with one accord, and all with streams of tears besought the help of the Almighty. On one of these days he made procession, singing the Litany with much humility, and bearing on his own shoulder with the help of the other bishops the most holy likeness of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ which is named 'the made without hands,"23 at the same time exhibiting other sacred mysteries, and so with naked feet walked, followed by the whole commonalty, to the church of the Holy Mother of God which is called Ad Praesepe.24 Ashes were sprinkled on the heads of all the people, and they walked along with mighty wailings, calling on the most merciful Lord God. But the Pope had tied to the adorable cross of our Lord that covenant which the wicked king of the Lombards had broken.'

The biographer then goes on to describe how the Pope ordained that these solemn processional litanies should be sung every sabbath day; the goal of the processions being by turns S. Maria Maggiore, St. Peter's, and St. Paul's. He also assembled all his bishops and  p177 clergy in the Lateran palace and exhorted them to be diligent in the study of the Scriptures and in other spiritual reading, that they might have a ready answer for the adversaries of the Church of God. Nor was conduct forgotten. 'With ceaseless and strengthening admonitions he warned the people of God to live soberly and piously and to keep themselves from all wickedness.'

Cry for help to Pippin. But while thus sharpening afresh all the weapons of his spiritual warfare, Stephen was preparing that appeal to the great power beyond the Alps for which both the Gregories25 and Zacharias had opened the way. By a returning pilgrim, whose name has not reached us, he sent a letter to the newly-crowned Pippin, begging him to despatch messengers bringing an invitation or a summons to the Frankish court.26 The king took the hint, and (probably in the spring of 753) Droctigang, abbot of Jumièges,27 appeared at the Lateran with a request for the Pope's presence in Frank-land.28 Another Frankish courtier arrived soon after to repeat the same invitation.

Papal letters to Pippin and his nobles. At this point of the negotiations we find two important letters from the Pope in that great collection the Codex Carolinus, which will henceforward be  p178 one of our main authorities. They were written with the intent that they should be taken back to Frank-land by the messengers whom Pippin had sent. In them the Pope expresses his high satisfaction with both of the envoys, and begs that one of them, 'Johannes vir religiosus' (who is perhaps the second unnamed messenger alluded to in the Liber Pontificalis), may accompany any future embassy that the king may send him. In the first letter, addressed to Pippin himself, Stephen assures him of the special protection of Peter, and exhorts him to persevere in the good course upon which he has entered. 'Because he that endureth to the end the same shall be saved. And for this thou shalt receive an hundred-fold in this life and shall inherit the life eternal.'

The other letter is addressed 'To the glorious men our sons, all the dukes of the Frankish nation.'29 The motive of this letter is revealed to us by some words of Einhard, the biographer of Charles the Great, in which he describes the intense dislike of many of the Frankish nobles to the proposal of a war with the Lombards.30 There were probably many reasons for this dislike. The relations of the two peoples had been for many generations friendly; the trouble and hardships of a Transalpine campaign were more obvious than the profit likely to result from it to any one but the Pope; even the great ecclesiastics, still but half reconciled to the strict discipline which Zacharias and Boniface had imposed upon them, may  p179 have given but cold assent to the proposal to make their papal master yet more masterful.

To the Frankish nobles accordingly Stephen addressed himself, nominally asking from their advocacy of his cause with the king, really no doubt seeking to smooth away their opposition. 'We are confident that you fear God and love your protector the blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, since you may be certain that for every struggle which you undertake on behalf of your spiritual mother the church, you shall receive an hundred-fold from the hand of God, and from the Prince of the Apostles himself the forgiveness of your sins. Therefore let nothing hinder you from aiding our petition to our son the God‑preserved and most excellent Pippin, that so your sins may be blotted out, and the Key‑bearer of the kingdom of heaven may open to you the door and introduce you into eternal life.'

Aistulf occupies Ceccano. The Frankish messengers probably returned from Rome with these letters about the beginning of July. Before the answer could be sent, Aistulf had taken a step further towards the attainment of his end by occupying Ceccano, a village on the Via Latina, south-east of Rome, and just inside the frontier of the Ducatus Romae. The learned and impartial editor of the Liber Pontificalis, Abbé Duchesne, aptly calls our attention to the fact that this occupation of Ceccano 'is the first act of hostility on the part of the Lombards. Till now the biographer has said a good deal about persecutions, menaces, broken treaties, citations, but he has not related any act of war.'31 However, it was undoubtedly a menacing  p180 deed. The old northward road by Perugia to the Exarchate, the Via Flaminia, was already of course closed, and now some stages on the southward road were to be occupied by the Lombards; the Ducatus Romae was to be more effectually barred from all possible communication with the imperial governor at Naples; the Pope might expect before long to see the Lombard standards on the south-eastern horizon moving towards the Lateran itself. Add to this the fact that Ceccano was cultivated by coloni of the Roman Church, and was therefore probably one of the 'patrimonies' of St. Peter, and we have reason enough for the Pope's resentment being fiercely kindled by such an invasion, though it was not, as far as we know, accompanied by bloodshed or any especial deed of violence.

Second embassy from the Emperor. However, the Lombard king does not appear at this time to have pushed his inroad further into the Ducatus Romae. Sept. 1, 753 The next event was the return of the imperial silentiarius John, accompanied by the papal messengers from Constantinople. Still Byzantine Emperor clung with extraordinary tenacity to his belief in embassies as a means of inducing the hot‑tempered Lombard to disgorge his conquests; and with equally strange ignorance of the schemes which were being revolved in the papal breast, he chose the Pope as the most fitting advocate of the desired restitution. Assuredly, one thinks, Constantine V cannot have read the alleged Donation of his great namesake. However, the Pope was still the Emperor's subject: he must go to the Lombard Court and demand restitution to the empire of Ravenna and the cities pertaining thereto: but as a preliminary he sent a  p181 messenger to Aistulf requesting a safe-conduct for himself and all his companions.

Frankish envoys Autchar and Chrodegang in Rome. The return of that messenger with the safe-conduct coincided most fortunately with the long-desired arrival in Rome of the Frankish envoys who were to act as escort to the Pope. They were two of the most eminent men in the Frankish kingdom, 'the most glorious duke'32 Autchar and — a yet more important personage — Chrodegang, bishop of Metz. This last-named ecclesiastic was sprung from a noble family in Brabant, and is even said, by one doubtful authority, to have been a cousin of the king. He was now a middle-aged man; he had been for many years referendarius33 (practically equivalent to chancellor) to the Frankish sovereign, and for the last eleven years (since 742) he had been bishop of Metz, the capital of the Austrasian kingdom. Liberal, learned (according to the estimation of the age), and fervent in piety, he was after Boniface the most noteworthy churchman of his generation. Like Boniface, he was intent upon the greatly needed work of reforming the morals of the Gaulish clergy, and with this end in view he drew up, probably soon after his return from his mission to Rome, a rule for the collegiate life of the clergy of his cathedral church. To Chrodegang more than to any other person may be attributed the institution of secular canons, the  p182 foundation of cathedral chapters, and not a few of the disciplinary rules which still survive in our English colleges.34 Chrodegang's main purpose was to introduce into the lives of the officiating clergy something of the same regularity and strictness which the wise moderation of the rule of Benedict had given to the lives of the monks. But several expressions in his Rule show that he was also impressed by the splendour and dignity of the ceremonial in the churches at Rome, and in ritual, and especially in music, he was a zealous advocate of the usages which he had observed during his Roman embassy.35

The Pope sets out for Pavia, Oct. 13, 753. On the 13th of October, 753, Pope Stephen II rode out of the Flaminian Gate on his fateful northward journey. Many of his own immediate flock, many too of the inhabitants of other cities, followed him for some miles along the road, beseeching him with tears to renounce his perilous enterprise. Doubtless the true goal of his journeyings was already an open secret in Rome. It was not merely the Roman bishop who as a dutiful subject of the empire was going to the palace at Pavia to plead the cause of Constantine Copronymus and to obtain the restitution of the Exarchate. It was the Patriarch of Western Christendom who, though in delicate health, was going to cross the Alps, to appear in Gaul, the first  p183 of the long line of Popes to tread the soil of that country, to invoke in person the help of the newly-anointed king of the Franks, and bring that powerful piece upon the board to cry 'check' to the Lombard king. Notwithstanding the lamentations of the people, Stephen II held on his way, accompanied by a number of bishops and priests and by some of the chief officers in the little army of the Ducatus Romae. At the fortieth milestone, after night had closed in, just as they were entering the Lombard territory,36 they saw a great sign in heaven — even a globe of fire falling towards the south from the region of Gaul and of the Lombards; evidently a taken of great changes coming from the northern lands upon Italy.

Threatening message from Aistulf. The Frankish duke Autchar went forward and heralded at the Lombard Court the approach of the venerable ambassador. No sooner, however, had the Pope set foot in the city of Pavia than he was met by a messenger from Aistulf — whom we are inclined to call, not as the biographer does, 'most wicked,' but 'most foolish' — ordering him on no account to say one word by way of petition on behalf of Ravenna, the Exarchate, or any of the cities which recent Lombard kings had wrested from the empire. The Pope returned the sensible and manly answer that no such attempts at intimidation would avail to silence his remonstrances on behalf of those cities.

Interview with Aistulf. 'When the Pope had arrived at Pavia37 and was presented to the wicked king he offered him many  p184 gifts, and besought him with copious tears that he would restore the Lord's sheep which he had taken away and would give back to every one his own' — a gentle hint as to the duty of recognising the imperial claim. Then the imperial envoys unfolded their commission, and doubtless with true Byzantine pomp of words pressed for the same surrender. All was in vain: nor does the recital of the biographer convey the impression that the Pope himself expected or desired it to be otherwise. But then began the real battle of the day. The Frankish envoys, Chrodegang and Autchar, 'pressed heavily on Aistulf with the demand that he should relax his rules and allow the most holy Pope to travel to Frank-land.38 At which he called the blessed man before him and asked him if he had any desire to hasten into Frank-land; whereupon the Pope by no means held his peace, but showed plainly his inclination to make the journey. Thereat Aistulf gnashed his teeth like a lion, and several times sent his creatures to him privately to try and divert him from his purpose. But when next day in the presence of Chrodegang the king again asked him if he wished to travel into Frank-land, the Pope answered, "If your will is to give me leave, mine is altogether to make the journey." '

Stephen sets forth on his journey across the Alps, Nov. 15, 753. The Pope had played a bold but skilful game. The request for his presence, coming from so powerful a neighbour as the king of the Franks, urged by his  p185 own ambassadors and heartily seconded by the Pope himself, was one which Aistulf durst not refuse; and so the important journey was commenced. On the 15th of November Stephen set forth from Pavia accompanied by two bishops,39 four presbyters, an archdeacon,40 two deacons — Ambrose the primicerius and Boniface the secundicerius of the papal curia — two regionarii,41 and other attendants. They made the first stages of the journey as rapidly as possible, fearing (as proved to be the case) that Aistulf would repent of his granted leave and seek to hinder them on their way. They arrived, however, ere any messenger could stop them at the Italian end of the pass of the Great St. Bernard, no doubt the Val d'Aosta, which owing to the early and unsuccessful Lombard invasions of Gaul had remained for a hundred and eighty years in Frankish hands and was now called one of the Frankish passes.42 The passage of the Alps. Arrived there, the Pope and his companions sang a psalm of praise to God who had so far prospered their journey. But to the dangers from men succeeded the dangers of Nature, the perils and the toils necessarily in that day accompanying the passage of a ridge 8,000 feet high in the month of November. That which is now the pass of the Great St. Bernard, but was then the Mons Jovis, rose before them, doubtless thickly covered with snow, and not crowned with that hospitable dwelling  p186 which for more than a thousand years has offered shelter to pilgrims, but perhaps still showing the dismantled and shelterless ruins of the temple of Jupiter. The biographer, who evidently was not one of the party, tells us nothing of the hardships of the ascent and descent, but they left their indelible impression on the mind of the chief pilgrim. Two years later, writing to Pippin, Stephen says, 'By St. Peter's orders my Unhappiness was directed to come to you. We surrendered ourselves body and soul to the mighty labours attending a journey into so vast and distant a province. Trusting utterly to your fidelity, by God's will we arrived in your presence, worn out by the frost and the snow, by the heat and the swelling of waters, by mighty rivers, and most atrocious mountains and divers kinds of danger.'43

However, all these perils overpassed, the Roman ecclesiastics descended safely into the valley of the Rhone, and rested from their labours in the renowned monastery of St. Maurice at Agaunum, the scene of the Burgundian Sigismund's devotion and despair.44 This religious house was under the government of the abbot Wilichar, formerly Archbishop of Vienne, who on the surrender of his see had gone on pilgrimage to Rome and there made the acquaintance of Pope Stephen.45 They were here therefore in the presence of old friends, and doubtless greatly enjoyed the calm and the shelter of the renowned convent. During the Pope's sojourn at St. Maurice, which probably  p187 lasted several weeks, Ambrose the primicerius sickened with fever and died. He was sixty years of age, and had probably never recovered from the fatigues of the mountain journey. Six years later his body was carried back across the Alps and buried in St. Peter's basilica.46

The Pope had hoped to find the Frankish king waiting for him at St. Maurice, but the necessity of repelling a Saxon inroad had apparently deranged the royal plans.47 However, Pippin's confidential adviser, Fulrad, abbot of S. Denis, soon appeared at the convent, together with a duke named Roland, charged with a renewal of the invitation and with the duty of escorting the ecclesiastics to the palace.

King Pippin, who had been keeping his Christmas at the Villa Theudonis on the Moselle,48 received we are told with immense joy the tidings of the Pope's arrival in his kingdom, and journeyed, with his wife, his sons, and his nobles, to another 'villa publica,' or royal demesne, that of Pons Hugonis, to meet him. This place, from which apparently all traces of a royal palace have now vanished, is the little village of Ponthion in Champagne, not far from those Catalaunian plains on which Attila and Aetius fought their mighty battle.49 Looking at the map, we are  p188 somewhat surprised to find the place of meeting between the Pope, coming from Switzerland, and the king who had kept Christmas on the Moselle, fixed so far to the west, but evidently both potentates had in their mind an approaching solemnity in the neighbourhood of Paris, and shaped the course of their journeys accordingly.

First appearance of Charles the Great. From Ponthion50 Pippin sent his son Charles a hundred miles forward on the road to meet the pontiff. A meeting full of interest for after generations; for this Charles, a lad of fourteen years, is none other than the future Charlemagne, and this Pope Stephen is the first of a long line of pontiffs who were to crown kings while themselves exercising something like kingly rule. Meeting of Stephen and Pippin. When news came that the Pope was approaching Pons Hugonis, the king rode forth to meet him at the third milestone from the palace, and dismounting from his horse prostrated himself before his papal guest, and then walked like a groom beside his palfrey.51  p189 Forty years before, a predecessor of Stephen had entered in like triumphal guise the city of Constantinople; but only the Emperor's representatives, not the Emperor himself, then graced his triumph. This may therefore be considered the first of those exhibitions of ostentatious humility on the part of the Crown towards the pontifical Tiara which were to be so numerous throughout the Middle Ages. Thus in solemn procession, with the usual ecclesiastical accompaniment of loudly chanted hymns and spiritual songs, Pope and King moved onward to the gates of the palace of Ponthion.

Pippin's promise at Ponthion. The day of this fateful meeting was the sixth of January, 754, the feast of the Epiphany. The Christmas festivities at Thionville had probably been summarily cut short by the tidings of the Pope's approach. When host and guest had entered the palace they proceeded to the royal chapel, and there, girded with sackcloth and with ashes on his head, the Pope fell prostrate before the King,52 and with ever-ready accompaniment of tears besought him — to do what? Every word here is important, and the biographer shall therefore tell us the story himself.

'The blessed Pope with tears besought the most Christian King that by treaties of peace he would arrange the cause of St. Peter and the republic of the Romans, who by an oath de praesenti assured the most blessed Pope that he would with his utmost energy obey all his commands and admonitions, and as soon as he should have convened a diet (?) by  p190 all means to restore to him the Exarchate of Ravenna and the rights and territories of the [Roman] republic.'53

The Pope at S. Denis. Winter was now making felt its full severity, and accordingly the King commended the Pope and his train of followers to the comfortable shelter of the abbey of S. Denis presided over by their friend Abbot Fulrad. Pippin, his wife, and sons crowned by Stephen. There after the lapse of some time54 Pippin also appeared, and there the solemn ceremony of his second coronation was performed by the head of Western Christendom. In that ceremony queen Bertrada,  p191 dressed in magnificent royal robes,55 and her two sons Charles and Carloman, the latter a little child of three years old, bore their part, and were all crowned together with the chief of their house. An important part of the ceremony was the anathema pronounced by the papal lips on any who should in after-ages presume to treat the race of Pippin as Pippin himself had treated the race of Clovis. 'At the same time,' says an unknown but well-informed writer, 'the Pope confirmed the chiefs of the Franks with his blessing and the grace of the Holy Spirit, and bound them all by such an interdict and threatened penalty of excommunication that they should never, for all time to come, presume to elect a king sprung from the loins of any other but of these persons whom the Divine Mercy had deigned to exalt, and in accordance with the intercessions of the holy Apostles to confirm and consecrate by the hands of their vicar the most blessed Pope.'56

Vain was this attempt to establish a new doctrine of Divine Right on behalf of the posterity of Pippin.  p192 In a century and a half Henry the Saxon in Germany, in a little more than two centuries huch Capet in France, were to push the last Arnulfings from their thrones. Did St. Louis or any of the later Bourbon or Habsburg rulers who in their turn claimed Divine Right and papal sanction for their demand on the inalienable allegiance of their subjects ever remember that, according to the words pronounced by Pope Stephen in the chapel of S. Denis, they and all their house were under excommunication and interdict for presuming to violate the divine, apostolic, papal decree which settled the crown of the Franks on Pippin and his seed for ever?

The title of Patrician conferred by Stephen on Pippin and his sons. It is to be observed that, according to the document from which I have just quoted, Stephen anointed Pippin not only to be King, but also Patrician. This was of course in no sense a Frankish but a purely Roman dignity, and pointed to the closer connection which was henceforth to subsist between Pippin and the City of Rome. Referring to previous pages of this work for the history of the title of Patrician,57 I may remind the reader that it had been of late years generally borne by the Exarch, and thus denoted authority over that part of Italy which was still imperial, an authority delegated from Constantinople. But when Pope Zacharias in the year 743 set forth on his journey of intercession to Ravenna, he, as we are told, 'left the government of the City to Stephen Patrician58 and Duke.' It would appear therefore that already ten years before the events which we are now considering, the Pope considered the Dux Romae as his subordinate, and that the Dux Romae  p193 bore the title of Patrician. It was probably in some such sense as this, and with the intention of conferring upon the Frankish king both a dignity, the first among Roman laymen, and a duty, that of guarding the territory of Rome from hostile invasion, that the Pope hailed his powerful friend in the chapel of S. Denis as not only King but Patrician. The title was bestowed upon the royal children as well as on Pippin himself, and is from this time forward sedulously used by the Pope in writing to his protectors, though Pippin himself does not seem to care about its adoption.59 From a strictly legal point of view probably no one but the Emperor at Constantinople had any right to confer the title, but neither Pope nor Frankish king seems to have troubled himself to enquire what were the strict legal rights of Constantine Copronymus.

Sickness of the Pope. At some time during this year 754 the Pope was seized with a serious illness, the result of the fatigues of the journey and of the rigour of a northern winter. His life was for a time despaired of, but he suddenly recovered, and was found by his attendants one morning convalescent when they had feared to find him dead.60

Placitum held at Quierzy. And now all eyes were directed to the great placitum which was to be held at the royal villa of Carisiacum61 near to Soissons in the heart of the  p194 old kingdom of the Salian Franks. Opposition of Frankish nobles of the war with the Lombards. As has been already said, we know that there was a certain unwillingness on the part of some of the great Frankish nobles to fight the Pope's battles with the Lombard beyond the Alps. The strength of this opposition appears from the following words of Charles's biographer Einhard: 'The war against the Lombards was with great difficulty undertaken by Charles's father on the earnest entreaty of Pope Stephen, because certain of the chief men of the Franks with whom he was wont to take counsel so stoutly resisted his will that they proclaimed with free voices that they would desert the king and return to their own homes.'62 Pippin, who was no Oriental despot, but the chosen leader of a free people, had to persuade and entice his subjects into granting the consent which was necessary for the fulfilment of his promises to the Pope. Stephen himself was apparently not present at this assembly. He was perhaps not yet fully recovered from his sickness, and he knew that he could trust his royal friend to plead his cause effectually. But when Pippin repaired to the place of meeting, where he was about to 'imbue the nobles with the admonitions of the  p195 Holy Father,'63 he was met by a powerful, perhaps an unexpected opponent. Reappearance of Carloman to dissuade from war. His brother Carloman, whom he had last seen in the barbaric splendour of a Frankish chief, and who had then been his equal, nay his superior in power, now appeared before him, barefooted, with shaven head, in the coarse robe of a Benedictine monk, to plead humbly — for what? That he would give prompt and effectual aid to the menaced head of the Western Church? No: but that he would live in peace with Aistulf, and not move one of his soldiers into Italy. The Papal biographer shall tell the story of this marvellous intervention in his own words: —

'Meanwhile the most unspeakable Aistulf by his devilish persuasions so wrought upon Carloman the brother of the most pious king Pippin, that he drew him forth from the monastery of St. Benedict in which he had dwelt devoutly as a monk for a certain space of time, and directed his course to the province of Frank-land, in order to raise objections and oppose the cause of the redemption of the Holy Church of God and the Republic of the Romans. And when he had arrived there he strove with all his power and vehemence to subvert the cause of the Church, according to the directions which he had received from the aforesaid unspeakable tyrant Aistulf. But by the grace of God he availed not to move the most firm soul of his brother the most Christian king Pippin: on the contrary, that excellent king, when he perceived the craftiness of the most wicked Aistulf, renewed his declaration that he would fight for the cause of God's holy Church as he had before promised  p196 the most blessed Pontiff. Then Pope and King with one accord taking counsel together, and remembering the aforesaid Carloman's own promise to God that he would lead a monastic life, placed him in a monastery there in Frank-land, where after certain days at the call of God he migrated from the light of day.'

Carloman's reasons for this intervention. This is all the information that we possess as to this startling reappearance of the princely monk on the political arena, save that the official annals64 inform us that Carloman undertook this journey unwillingly, being bound by his vow to obey the orders of the abbot of Monte Cassino, who again was under constraint, laid upon him by the stern orders of the Lombard king. This explanation, though accepted by many writers, does not seem to me sufficient to account for the facts. The abbot of Monte Cassino had not in past times shown himself thus subservient to the will of Aistulf, and a man occupying a position so venerated throughout Italy could not have been thus easily coerced into a course of which his conscience disapproved. Nor does the Papal biographer's own account of the vehemence with which the impulsive Carloman fulfilled his mission correspond with the chronicler's statement of the reluctance with which it was undertaken. To conjecture the motives even of our best-known contemporaries is often an unprofitable task, but if I may conjecture the motives of Carloman I would suggest that he had now seen enough of the Papal Curia of Italy and of the Lombards to know that the best thing for the country of his adoption, and even for 'the Holy Church of God' for which he had made such vast sacrifices,  p197 would be the establishment of a modus vivendi between the Bishop of Rome and the Lombard king, and that he may even have had some prophetic vision of the long centuries of sorrow which the Pope's appeal for aid from beyond the Alps would bring upon Italy.

Carloman's death, 755. The death of Carloman followed at no great interval his unsuccessful intervention in the cause of peace. It has never been suggested that this event was not due to natural causes, but among these, disappointment and chagrin at the discovery that he who could once have ordered peace or war with the certainty of obedience, must now plead and plead in vain for the cause of peace, may very probably have contributed to the fatal result. The continuer of the chronicle of 'Fredegarius' tells us that he remained at Vienne with his sister-in‑law queen Bertrada, languished for many days, and died in peace in the year 755.

The Donation of Pippin (Donation of Quierzy). The mission of Carloman having proved fruitless, and the nobles assembled at Carisiacum having sufficiently signified their concurrence in the royal policy, Pippin proceeded to his work of obtaining, by negotiation if possible, if not by the sword, a promise from the Lombard king to respect 'the rights of St. Peter.' In order to state clearly what those rights were, a document appears to have been drawn up, in which Pippin set forth the territories which if he were victorious he was prepared to guarantee to the Pope. This is the far‑famed Donation of Pippin, a document certainly less mythical than the Donation of Constantine, but one which has been the cause of almost as loud and angry a controversy, chiefly because, the document itself having disappeared, its contents have to be  p198 supplied by conjecture; and in this conjectural reproduction scarce two of the guessers altogether agree.

Hadrian's reference to this donation (774). Twenty years later, when Charles the Great visited Rome in the midst of his victorious campaign against the Lombards, the then Pope Hadrian, as we are told, 'constantly prayed and besought him, and with paternal affection admonished him to fulfil in all things that promise which his father the late king Pippin of blessed memory, and himself the most excellent Charles with his brother Carloman and all the chiefs [lit. judges] of the Franks, had made to St. Peter and his vicar Pope Stephen II of blessed memory, when he journeyed to Frank-land; his promise namely to bestow divers cities and territories of that province of Italy and confirm them to St. Peter and all his vicars for a perpetual possession. And when he [Charles] had caused that promise which was made in Frank-land in a place which is called Carisiacum to be read over to him, he and all his nobles approved of all the things which were there recorded.'65

The authenticity of the passage here quoted has been itself gravely questioned, and great difficulties,  p199 as we shall hereafter see, encompass the question of the donation by Charles (in 774) founded upon this alleged donation by his father twenty years earlier. But upon a review of the whole evidence it seems to me clear that a donation of some kind was made by Pippin to the Pope at Carisiacum in 754. We call it a donation, but it was in strictness not a donation, but a promise to distribute in a certain manner the spoils to be taken from the Lombard king. What did Pippin himself understand by his 'Donation'? And if we take into consideration the thoughts and desires of the Frankish king as far as these are disclosed to us by his words reported by the chroniclers, we may be able to make a probable conjecture as to the nature of the gift which he promised to make to the Pope in the event of victory. He was informed that the Lombard king — generally described to him as 'most wicked' and 'quite unspeakable' — had lately reft from 'the Roman Republic' certain territories between the Adriatic and the Apennines, that he was trying to subject the citizens of Rome to the payment of a poll‑tax, and that in his marchings hither and thither through Italy he was trampling upon the Papal patrimonies and oppressing the coloni by whom they were cultivated. All this King Pippin has determined must come to an end. The justitiae or rightful claims of St. Peter must be vindicated; the patrimonies must be safe from molestation; the independence of the citizens of Rome must be maintained; the territories lately wrested from 'the Roman Republic' must be restored — not to the Byzantine Emperor, a personage about whom the Frankish king knew and cared but little, but to 'the Roman Republic,' that is to St. Peter, first bishop of Rome  p200 and keeper of the doors of the kingdom of heaven, that is to St. Peter's vicar, Pope Stephen II, now sheltering under the Frankish wing in the abbey of S. Denis, to whom moreover he, Pippin, owed a debt of gratitude for the confirmation of him and his sons in the kingdom of the Franks.

Further than this it is not likely that the Pope's demands or the king's promises extended. The settlement of the Lombards in Italy was now near two centuries old, and might be considered as ancient history. The dukes of Spoleto and Benevento had not, as far as we know, assisted the designs of Aistulf, and had often of recent years been leagued with the Pope against the Lombard king. There was therefore no reason why they should be attacked in the impending Holy War. Restitution of the status quo ante Aistulfum, a return to the state of affairs which existed in Italy in the time of Liutprand, was the object which Pippin set before his eyes; only with this exception, that the Exarchate of Ravenna and the Pentapolis, the territories which had been torn from 'the Roman Republic' by Aistulf, were to be handed back, not to the lieutenant of Constantine Copronymus, but to Stephen II, bishop of Rome.

Geographical ignorance of the Frankish king. It is probable enough that the 'Donation' may have been expressed in vague and large terms into which a later Pope might read more than was in the mind of either contracting party at the time of its first inception. In this connection it is important to remember — a fact of which the modern reader is too apt to lose sight — that the geographical information at the command of a statesman of the eighth century was enormously inferior to that which  p201 would be available for the humblest mechanic at the present day. Every man of moderate education now knows the configuration of Italy on the map, and can at once approximately estimate the probable effect of this or that cession of territory on the balance of power in the peninsula. If the Frankish king and his counsellors had access to any map either of Gaul or Italy, which may be gravely doubted, it would not be a better one than that which, under the name of the Tabula Peutingeriana, is preserved in the Imperial Library at Vienna, and which, however interesting to the historical student, so grotesquely distorts the shapes and alters the sizes of the countries composing the Roman Empire that any judgment formed on its evidence would be sure to be mistaken.

In fine, Pippin's interest in the affairs of Italy was only of a secondary kind. The scheme, which eventually ripened in his son's mind, of crushing the Lombard monarchy and annexing Italy to his dominions, never, we may safely say, suggested itself to this king of the Franks. All that he was concerned with was the consolidation of his dynasty and the salvation of his soul. To secure these ends he was willing to march into Italy, to defeat the Lombard king, and to assert the claims of St. Peter; but these ends accomplished, the sooner he returned to his own villa by the Marne or the Moselle the better. As we shall see, though he twice appeared and fought in Italy, he did not once visit Rome.

Pippin tries to negotiate with Aistulf. At first Pippin tried the path of negotiation with the Lombard king. Three successive embassies66  p202 crossed the Alps charged to obtain from Aistulf by the promise of large gifts a recognition of 'the claims of St. Peter.' All being in vain, Pippin summoned the Frankish host to meet him at the royal villa of Brennacum,67 on the 1st of March, 755.68 The army moved southward; the 'wedges,' as we are told of the Frankish host, had accomplished nearly half their journey,69 when Pippin, at the instance of the Pope — sincerely anxious doubtless to prevent the effusion of Christian blood — sent yet one more embassy to Aistulf. It is probably to this embassy that the words of a slightly later chronicler refer, to whom we are indebted for something more definite than the sonorous platitudes of the Papal biographer: —

'Pippin therefore [being about to] cross the Alps,70 sending his ambassadors to Aistulf, demanded that he would not afflict the Holy Roman Church, whose defender he had become by the divine ordinance, but would render full justice for the property which he had wrested from it. But Aistulf, puffed up with pride, and even with foolish words heaping reproaches on the aforesaid pontiff, would not promise him anything except liberty to return through his dominions to his own proper place. The ambassadors, however, protested that on no other conditions would the lord  p203 Pippin depart from the borders of Lombardy unless first Aistulf would do justice to St. Peter. "What is that justice of which you speak?" asked Aistulf, to which the ambassadors made answer, "That you should restore to him Pentapolis, Narni, and Ceccano,71 and all the places where the Roman people complain of your injustice. And Pippin sends you this message, that if you are willing to render justice to St. Peter he will give you 12,000 solidi" (£7,200). But Aistulf, spurning all these offers, dismissed the ambassadors without any words of peace.'72

The army marches. On learning the rejection of the proposals for peace the Frankish host, which had marched by way of Lyons, Vienne and Grenoble,73 ascended successively the valleys of the Isère and Arc, and reached S. Jean de Maurienne, whence they would behold the snowy peaks of the mountains round Mont Cenis rising before them. Here the main body of the host seems to have halted, collecting its strength for the tremendous enterprise of crossing the Mont Cenis in the face of opposition of a watchful foe.74 Suddenly and unexpectedly came  p204 the tidings that no such enterprise lay before them, that the peril, though not the labour, of the passage of the Alps was vanished. The Lombard king had collected his army and pitched his camp in the valley of Susa, 'with the weapons and engines of war,' says the chronicler, 'and the manifold apparatus which he had wickedly collected against the Republic and the Apostolic See of Rome, wherewith he now strove to defend his nefarious designs.'75 As the reader has been already reminded, the valley of Susa as well as that of Aosta had been included in the Burgundian-Frankish dominions ever since the early and unsuccessful inroads of the Lombards into Frankish territory.76 This fact and the consequent necessity of violating Frankish territory before he could even occupy Susa may explain the backward state of Aistulf's preparations for defence. Assuredly, however, he should not have contented himself with merely pitching his camp at the mouth of the pass, but should have occupied some of the heights, so as to harass the march of the invading army. Aistulf defeated by the advance guard of the Franks. The result of this improvidence was too plainly seen. A small body of Frankish soldiers, sent probably with no other object than that of effecting a reconnaissance, were seen emerging from the pass. Aistulf moved at early morning with the whole Lombard army against them, but the Franks, confiding in the help of God and St. Peter, possibly also still enjoying the advantage of the higher ground and fighting with great valour, inflicted serious loss on the Lombard  p205 host. The proportion of deaths among the Lombard officers was especially severe, a feature of mountaineering warfare which is often observed at the present day. Almost all the dukes and counts and other nobles were slain in this engagement, and Aistulf himself narrowly escaped death by the fall of a rock.77 Casting away his armour he fled with the remnant of his host down the valley to Pavia, and shut himself up in that city. Rapidly did Pippin and his men now accomplish the dreaded passage of the Alps. They were in time to capture the deserted camp, to plunder it of its treasures of gold and silver and all the abandoned ornaments of regal magnificence, and to make its tents their own. Pavia invested. Pippin then sat down with his army before the city of Pavia, laying waste with fire all the surrounding country, and carrying havoc far down the fertile valley of the Po.78

Aistulf agrees to Pippin's terms. Aistulf soon perceived that he was unable to cope with the might of the king of the Franks, and through the nobles and clergy in the besieging army began to make overtures for peace. They appear to have been seconded by him whom the biographer calls 'the most blessed and as it were angelic pope,' who was in the camp of the invaders,79 and who desired to  p206 stay the ravages of war and the further effusion of Christian blood. A treaty was drawn up between the Romans, the Franks and the Lombards, in which Aistulf with all his nobles bound himself by a mighty and terrible oath to immediately restore Ravenna and divers other cities to the Roman Republic.80 Hostages were given to ensure the observance of the treaty and of Aistulf's promise that he would entertain no further hostile designs against the republic or the see of Rome; and the costly presents wherewith he had obtained the advocacy of his cause were handed over to the Frankish nobles.81 After these matters had been settled Stephen returned to Rome with the dignified ecclesiastics who formed his train, enriched with large presents by the generous Frankish king, and Pippin returned to his own land, carrying with him apparently no small part of the great Lombard hoard.

Aistulf's submission not sincere. He had not, however, really settled the dispute by his intervention. Unfortunately, as already hinted, Aistulf seems to have been one of those irritating personages, like our Ethelred the Unready, who can make neither war nor peace, neither fight a good stand‑up fight successfully, nor accept the consequences  p207 of defeat when beaten. Bitter complaints of the Pope to Pippin. Pippin had probably not long returned to his northern home when he received a letter82 in which Pope Stephen bitterly complained of the many tribulations inflicted upon him by the unjust king of the Lombards. 'That old enemy of the human race, the Devil, has invaded his perfidious heart, and he seems to make of no account the promises which he gave under the sanction of an oath, nor has he consented to restore one hand's breadth of land to the blessed Peter and the holy Church of God, the Republic of the Romans.83 In truth ever since that day when we [you and I] parted from one another he has striven to put upon us such afflictions, and on the Holy Church of God such insults, as the tongue of man cannot declare: nay, rather the stones themselves, if one may say so, would with mighty howlings weep for our tribulation. . . . I especially grieve, my most excellent sons' (the young kings, Charles and Carloman, are addressed along with their father), 'that you would not hear the words uttered by our Unhappiness, and chose to listen to lies rather than to the truth, deceiving your own souls and making yourselves a laughing-stock. Wherefore without any effectual redress of the wrongs of  p208 St. Peter84 we had to return to our own fold and to the people committed to our charge.'

This is the theme to which Stephen II returns in this and many following letters. 'You have made peace too easily: you have taken no sufficient security for the fulfilment of the promises which you made to St. Peter, and which you yourselves guaranteed by writing under your hands and seals.'85 Remembering the eagerness for a peaceable settlement without further effusion of Christian blood, which his biographer attributes to the Pope, we are somewhat surprised to find him adopting this tone of remonstrance. It is of course possible that Stephen may have advised the Frankish king to insist on some surer guarantee than oaths and hostages for the fulfilment of Aistulf's promises; but on the other hand it may be suggested that the Churchman, unused to the sights and sounds of war and anxious for peace, urged on his royal friend terms of accommodation which he himself when he had returned to Rome found to be quite insufficient for his purpose.

'Better is it not to have vowed at all,' urges the Pope, 'than to vow and fail to perform the vow. The promised donation written by your own hand is firmly held by the Prince of the Apostles himself. Consider what a stalwart exacter of his dues is the blessed Peter, who through my intervention has anointed you and your sons to be kings; and fear lest when the just Judge appears to judge the quick and the dead and to consume the world by fire, that  p209 same Prince of the Apostles shall prove that your written promise failed to bind you. A severe account will you then have to settle with him. All the nations round believed that you who had received from Providence this shining gift, granted to none of your ancestors, of protecting the rights of the Prince of the Apostles, were going to obtain justice for him by your most mighty arm. But in this you seem to be failing, and great stupefaction has seized all hearts by reason thereof. "Faith without works is dead"; therefore listen to our cry, and speedily and without delay obtain the restitution to St. Peter of all the cities and towns contained in your donation, as well as of the hostages and captives who are still detained.'86

Aistulf besieges Rome, Jan. 1, 756. These piteous cries for help do not seem to have been immediately answered. It was probably too late in the year for the Frankish king to think of undertaking another Transalpine expedition. But meanwhile Aistulf, with incredible folly as it seems to us, as well as with scandalous disregard of his plighted word, took the field, and endeavoured to capture Rome in the winter months of the year 756, before Pippin could come to its rescue. On the 1st of January an army under command of the Duke of Tuscany87 came down, like Porsena's Etruscans of old, clustering round the Janiculan Mount and blocked up the three  p210 gates of the City, on the right bank of the Tiber — Portuensis, S. Pancratii, and S. Petri.88 The Lombards of Benevento, who had made a levy en masse, marched from the South, and beset the gates of St. Paul and St. John, and the three gates between them.89 King Aistulf himself pitched his tents, like another Alaric, outside the Salarian Gate, and said (or was reported by the trembling citizens to have said), 'Open to me this Salarian gate, and let me enter the City. Hand over to me your Pope, and I will deal gently with you. Otherwise I will demolish your walls and slay you all with one sword. Then let me see who will deliver you out of my hands.'

Lombard ravages. The Lombard blockade of Rome lasted for three months. Of the events which marked its course we have no other information than that which is conveyed to us by the indignant Papal biographer and by the loud shrieks of Pope Stephen himself, who in two letters written to Pippin about the 24th of February90 describes, and perhaps exaggerates, the actions of the Lombard king. The farms of the Campagna are said to have been laid waste with fire and sword. The Lombards are accused of burning the churches, of throwing the images of the saints into the fire, of stuffing their pouches with the consecrated elements and devouring them at their gluttonous repasts, of stripping the altars of their altar-cloths and other  p211 adornments, of carrying off and violating the nuns, some of whom died of the ill‑treatment which they received, of belabouring the monks, some of whom they lacerated with stripes.91 The farm-houses on St. Peter's property were destroyed by fire; so too were the suburban houses of all the Romans of every class. The cattle were driven off, the vines cut down to the roots, the harvests 'trampled down and devoured.'92

All this catalogue of crimes is derived from the Pope's letters addressed to Pippin, passionately crying for help. The Papal biographer, while confirming in general terms the charge of wasting the Campagna with fire and sword, adds a more specific accusation, that of digging up the bodies of the saints and carrying them away.93 This lawless quest for sacred relics shows the strange mixture of savagery and devotion in the minds of the Christianised but only half-civilised Lombards.

 p212  Narni recaptured by the Lombards. The military operations of the Lombard army seem to have been confined to the re‑capture of Narni (which had been previously handed over by Aistulf to the emissary of Pippin),94 and to frequent but unsuccessful assaults on the walls of Rome.95 Prowess of Abbot Warnehar. In repelling these attacks the Pope saw with pleasure, conspicuous on the walls, the mail-clad figure of Abbot Warnehar, who had come to Rome as Pippin's envoy, and who now, says the Pope, 'watched day and night for the defence of the afflicted City of Rome, and like a good athlete of Christ strove with all his might for the defence and liberation of all of us Romans.'96

Another cry to Pippin for help. Late in the second month of the siege the valiant Warnehar, along with two other of Pippin's envoys,97 returned from Rome, accompanied by George, bishop of Ostia. They travelled by sea,98 and they bore two letters from Stephen to the king, from which the foregoing particulars as to Aistulf's invasion have been  p213 quoted. These letters repeated in yet shriller key than their predecessors the entreaties, nay the commands, of the Pope to Pippin, if he valued his eternal salvation, to come speedily to the rescue of Rome. 'The Lombards taunt us in their rage and fury, saying, "Now we have surrounded you. Let the Franks come if they can and deliver you from our hands." On you, after God and St. Peter, depend the lives of all the Romans. If we perish all the nations of the earth will say, "Where is the confidence of the Romans which they placed in the kings and the nation of the Franks?" More than that, the sin of our ruin will lie on your soul; and in the last great day of judgment, when the Lord shall sit surrounded by the blessed Peter and the other Apostles to judge as it were by fire every class, each sex, and every one of this world's potentates, He will harden His heart against you, who now harden your heart against our prayers, and will say to you (O God forbid that it should be so), "I know you not, because you did not help the Church of God, and because you took no care to deliver His own peculiar people when they were in peril." '

St. Peter's letter. To add emphasis to these two letters a third was brought containing and enforcing the same arguments, and putting them in the mouth of the awful holder of the keys of heaven, St. Peter himself.99 The letter is addressed to the three kings, Pippin, Charles, and Carloman; to the most holy bishops, abbots, presbyters,  p214 and to all religious monks; also to the dukes, counts, armies and people dwelling in Frank-land. In it the Apostle assures his correspondents that he has chosen them as his adopted sons for the deliverance from the hands of their enemies of the City of Rome in which his bones repose, and the people of Rome committed to his care by Christ.

'As if I, God's apostle Peter, were now standing in my bodily presence before you, even so do you firmly believe that you hear the words of my exhortation, because, though I be absent in the flesh, in the spirit I am not far from you. For it is written, "He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward." Moreover our Lady, the Mother of God, Mary ever a virgin, doth with us most solemnly adjure, warn, and order you: and the like do the thrones and dominations and the host of the heavenly army, the martyrs and confessors of Christ, and all who are in any way well-pleasing to God.

'Run! run! by the living and true God I exhort and summon you: run and help, ere the living fountain which has satisfied your thirst be dried up, ere the last spark of the flame which gave you light be quenched, ere your spiritual mother, the Holy Church of God, through whom you hope to receive eternal life, be attacked and foully ravished by impious men. . . . I speak on behalf of that City of Rome in which the Lord ordained that my body should rest, that City which He commended to my care and made the foundation of the faith. Liberate that City and its people, your brethren, and do not suffer it to be invaded by the nation of the Lombards: so may your provinces and your possessions not be invaded by nations that ye wot not of. Let not me be separated from my Roman  p215 people: so may you not be separated from the kingdom of God and the life eternal. I conjure, I conjure you, O my best beloved ones, by the living God, suffer not this my City of Rome and the people that dwelleth therein to be any longer tortured by the nation of the Lombards: so may your bodies and souls not be tortured in the eternal and unquenchable fire of Tartarus with the devil and his pestilential angels. And let not the sheep of the Lord's flock committed to my care by God, namely the Roman people, be any longer scattered abroad, so may the Lord not scatter you and cast you forth as He did unto the people of Israel.'

To address such a letter to the Frankish king in the name of the Apostle himself was certainly a daring stroke of rhetoric. It jars upon modern taste and feeling, it may perhaps have jarred upon the spiritual sensibilities of some men even in that day, to have the Prince of the Apostles introduced thus audaciously as an actor on the scene where Stephen, Aistulf, and Pippin were playing their respective parts. But if it was an offence against reverence and good taste, there is no reason to think that it was anything more. It would be perfectly understood by those to whom the letter was addressed that the words were the words of Stephen, though the superscription of the letter assigned them to Peter. It is surely through a deficiency of imagination and of insight into the feelings of a past age and its modes of expressing them, that some modern authors have seen in this document an attempt to impose on the credulity of Pippin by presenting him with a forged letter from the world of spirits.100

 p216  Pippin's second campaign in Italy. These urgent entreaties, these promises of spiritual reward and menaces of spiritual perdition, produced the desired effect. It was probably as early in 756 as warlike operations could be undertaken that Pippin again marched by way of Châlons-sur‑Saône and Geneva to S. Jean de Maurienne, and crossed the Mont Cenis, routing the Lombards, who seem to have been again stationed at the mouth of the pass, and upon whom Pippin's soldiers burst with Frankish fury, slaying many and driving the rest in flight before them down the valley.101 But on his march towards Pavia, he met, not Aistulf, but two unlooked‑for visitors from Constantinople. Interview with ambassadors from Constantinople. George the first secretary102 and John life-guardsman103 (the same officer doubtless who had come on a similar mission two years before) had arrived in Rome charged with a commission to the Frankish king. Stephen had informed them of Pippin's intended movements, and had probably showed by his manner that he was no longer the subservient courtier of Byzantium, but that the 'Donation of Constantine' was about to take effect through the intervention of his powerful friend beyond the Alps. The Imperial envoys disbelieved the tale, but took ship for Marseilles, accompanied by an emissary from the Pope. On their arrival at Marseilles they found that the Pope's information  p217 had been too true, that Pippin was indeed already on his march for Italy; and probably the gossip of the seaport told that the expedition was all for the 'justice of St. Peter,' with not a word about the 'justice of the Emperor.' Saddened by this discovery they strove to the utmost of their power to detain the Papal envoy at Marseilles, to prevent him from reaching the presence of the king. But 'though,' we are told, 'they afflicted him grievously, by the intervention of St. Peter their crafty cleverness was brought to nought.' However, the Imperial ambassadors104 getting the start of the Papal envoy, travelled with rapidity to the camp of the Frankish king, whom they overtook not far from Pavia. With earnest entreaties and the promise of many presents George besought Pippin to restore Ravenna and the cities and villages of the Exarchate to the Empire. 'But in no wise,' says the biographer, 'did he avail to incline the firm heart of that most christian and benignant king to any such surrender. Mild as he was, that worshipper of God declared [with emphasis] that on no account whatever should those cities be alienated from the power of the blessed Peter and the jurisdiction of the Roman Church and the Apostolic See, affirming with an oath that for no [living] man's favour had he given himself once and again to the conflict, but solely for love of St. Peter and for the pardon of his sins: asserting too that no abundance of treasure would bribe him to take away what he had  p218 once offered for St. Peter's acceptance. Having given this answer to the Imperial ambassador, he at once gave him leave to return to his own place by another way, and thus did the Silentiarius arrive at Rome, having accomplished nothing of his purpose.

Aistulf beaten to his knees. As to the details of Pippin's second campaign in Italy we know nothing. Aistulf probably abandoned the siege of Rome by the end of March, and returned to Pavia to defend himself against the threatened invasion. Pippin with his nephew Tassilo, the young duke of Bavaria, again ravaged the plains of Lombardy, and again pitched his tents under the walls of Pavia.105 Once more Aistulf saw himself compelled to beg humbly for peace, to renew his promise to surrender to the Pope the cities of the Exarchate and Pentapolis, and to add thereto the town of Comiaclum106 which lay in a lagoon north of Ravenna, and may perhaps have made the occupation of Ravenna more secure. A written 'donation of also these territories' to St. Peter and the Holy Roman Church and all pontiffs of the Apostolic See for ever was given by Aistulf and laid up among the Papal archives. Assuredly also some stronger guarantee than this for the fulfilment of Aistulf's promises was taken by the Frankish king. According to one chronicler107 — not of the most trustworthy character — Aistulf had to surrender a third part of the great Lombard hoard to his conqueror, to promise fealty and a yearly tribute of 5,000 solidi to the king of the Franks, and to guarantee by the surrender of hostages the fulfilment  p219 of all previous engagements to St. Peter and Pope Stephen.108

When Pippin returned to his own land he commissioned the faithful Fulrad, now by interchange of hospitalities doubly bound to the Pope, to see to the fulfilment of Aistulf's promises. Accompanied by the officers of the Lombard king, Fulrad 'entered,' says the biographer, 'each one of the cities both of the Pentapolis and Emilia, received their submission, and taking with him the nobles109 of each city, together with the keys of their gates, arrived at Rome. Having placed the keys of the city of Ravenna as well as of the different cities of the Exarchate along with King Pippin's donation110 on the tomb of St. Peter,111 he handed them over to the same Apostle of God and to his vicar the most holy Pope and all his pontifical successors, to be for ever possessed and disposed of by them.'

The biographer then gives the names of twenty-three cities and towns, which will be found in a Note at the end of this chapter. It will be sufficient here to state that they did not comprise (as one might suppose from the previous sentence) all the cities of the two provinces of the Emilia and Pentapolis. Of the Emilia  p220 only about a fifth, in the extreme east of the province, was yet obtained by the Papal see. The whole of the Pentapolis however, with the important exception of Ancona, was included in the cession to the Pope of which Fulrad was the happy instrument. This cession therefore comprised all the coast-line of the Adriatic from Comacchio north of Ravenna to Sinigaglia north of Ancona. Inland it reached up to the great dorsal spine of Italy formed by the Apennine range, and was doubtless now connected with the Ducatus Romae by the western branch of the great Flaminian Way, on which 'the Republic' had long held the key‑city of Perugia and now probably acquired whatever other towns or villages were necessary to establish a secure communication between the bishop of Rome and his new dominion on the Adriatic. Narni, we are expressly told, was now again restored to him, but Narni is on the eastern branch of the Via Flaminia, of which, since the Lombard duke of Spoleto occupied that important post of vantage, we can hardly suppose the Popes to have had any claim other than one of courtesy.

Thus then is the struggle at last ended. The keys of all those fair cities repose in the well-known crypt where, amid ever-burning candles, lie the martyred remains of the fisherman of Galilee. The territory between the Apennines and the Adriatic, ruled over of late by a Greek exarch, wrested from him by the Lombards and from the Lombards by the Frankish king, has been handed over, in spite of the 'Greek' Emperor's remonstrance, 'to the Roman Republic, to St. Peter and to his Vicars the Popes of Rome for ever.' The Pope does not yet assume the  p221 kingly title, nor must we commit the anachronism of calling him 'il Papa-Rè', but it cannot be doubted that the old man at whose feet the keys of the twenty-three cities have been laid, and before whom the nobles of those cities have bowed, is recognised as their ruler, and that we behold in Stephen II the real sovereign of 'the Exarchate.'


The Author's Notes:

1 'Memoralibus membranis . . . renovare ac rescribere decrevit.'

2 The present text of the Liber Pontificalis gives as the date the Ides of March (Mar. 15), which Duchesne (p. cclxii) corrects to the 22nd or 23rd of that month.

3 Duchesne says on March 26, only four days after the death of Zacharias. His authority must be regarded as decisive: otherwise the words which are found in the later editions of the Liber Pontificalis, 'et cessavit Episcopatus dies xii,' would have seemed to give a more probable account of the matter.

4 See Duchesne, L. P., 456, n. 3: 'cette façon de compter est étrange au moyen âge et surtout au L. P.'

5 See vol. VI pp455, 495.

6 The date is 'anno regni iii per Indictionem iv.' Apparently it was at the very beginning of the third year of Aistulf's reign, if not on the anniversary of his accession. See the document in 'Il Regesto di Farfa,' II.xxiii (or 18).

7 See vol. VI p333.

8 See vol. VI p481.

9 See vol. VI p469.

Thayer's Note: On this p165 in the chapter you are reading, the printed book has a marginal heading "732. Battle of Poictiers". It is not right. The battle is that of the Metaurus, to which Hodgkin's note correctly sends us. Since these headings have clearly been meant thruout to guide the reader along the flow of the events described in the text, and not to provide parenthetical information, I've removed this one altogether.

10 In two pages of the Liber Pontificalis (441 and 442, ed. Duchesne) Aistulf is called 'crudelissimus rex,' 'nequissimus,' 'malignus rex,' 'rex impius,' 'atrocissimus Langobardorum rex.'

11 We must not insist too strongly on the conventional epithets of praise which Pope Stephen II himself gives to Aistulf in a bull relating to the long controversy between the sees of Arezzo and Siena which bears date May 20, 752, two months after Stephen's elevation to the pontificate. In this bull (No. 661 in Troya's Codice Diplomatico Longobardo), while Liutprand is 'praecellent­issimus bonae memoriae Liutprandus,' Aistulf is 'Aistulfum excellent­issimum Regem: qui praecellent­issimus Rex a Sedis Apostolicae judicio subtrahere noluit' a certain ecclesiastical offender who had fled to him for protection. Still it is worthy of notice that these complimentary epithets are applied to Aistulf some time after he had made himself master of Ravenna.

12 'Tunc surrexerunt viri Romani scelerati et intimaverunt Aistulfo regi ut venirent (sic) et possiderunt (sic) Tusciae finibus et Romanum imperium usurparent.' Chronicle of the blessed St. Andrew (a tenth-century writer), c. 17 (Pertz, MonumentaIII.703).

13 See vol. V p309.

14 See the prologues to the Laws of Ratchis and Aistulf.

15 The Primicerius Notariorum in the court of Theodoric seems to have held an office with which was combined that of Count of Sacred Largesses (see Cassiodori Variae, VI.7). He certainly ranked at least as a Spectabilis, if not as an Illustris (see vol. I p208; p603 in second edition). In the Papal Court, on the death of a Pope it was the Primicerius Notariorum upon whom, with the Archpresbyter and Archdeacon, devolved the duty of notifying the vacancy of the pontificate to the Exarch, Archbishop, and other officials at Ravenna. (See Liber Diurnus, lix, lxi, lxii, and lxiii.)

16 The Devil; see vol. IV p481º  (426).

17 'Cupiens quippe — cunctam hunc provinciam invadere — onerosum tributum — adhibere nitebatur — singulos auri solidos annue, auferre inhiabat — sui jurisdictione civitatem hanc Romanam — subdere indignanter asserebat.'

18 Vol. IV p479º (425).

19 The ruins of the convent may be seen near Castellone, about 15 miles N. W. of Isernia, high up on the central Apennine chain. The convent 'was suppressed and destroyed at the French invasion at the close of last century, when its collections were transferred to Monte Cassino' (Murray's Guide to South Italy, p213, ed. 1892).

Thayer's Note: The restored abbey is once again home to a monastic community; their website includes a map and good photos.

20 'Hanc lugubrem ejus divinae majestati insinuavit lamentationem.' Perhaps a paragraph has been omitted here, containing the words of Pope Stephen's prayer.

21 Captain of the life-guards.

22 Constantinople.

23 Acheropsitaἀχειροποίητα. This is apparently the first mention of the sacred picture known as the Achiropoieton, which was said to have been drawn in outline by St. Luke and to have had the colours filled in by angelic hands. It is kept in the Sancta Sanctorum chapel at the top of the Scala Santa, and the picture itself or an ancient copy of it, is exhibited on certain days of festival to the multitude. 'Only the head, hands and feet are visible, the rest being covered with silver laminae adorned with reliefs of sacred subjects. The countenance is of the conventional ascetic type, by no means beautiful or pleasing, and almost blackened by time' (Hemans, Ancient Christianity and Sacred Art, p462).

24 S. Maria Maggiore: so called from the Holy Cradle said to have been brought from Bethlehem at the time of the Saracen invasion of Palestine and deposited in this church.

25 So says the biographer. We have in the fragmentary annals of the time no record of direct correspondence of Gregory II with the Frankish Mayors, but it is possible that there may have been some communication of which we are not informed.

26 This letter is not extant.

27 Droctigang appears in the Liber Pontificalis as Trottigangus Abbas. Jumièges (Gemetiacum) is on the south bank of the Seine near its mouth.

28 Francia of course at this time is a much wider term than the modern France, including Austrasia as well as Neustria and Burgundy. Frank-land seems to me the best translation.

29 'Stephanus episcopus servus servorum Dei viris gloriosis nostrisque filiis, omnibus ducibus gentis Francorum' (Codex Carolinus, Ep. 5, ed. Jaffé). Probably the word 'ducibus' should be taken in the widest sense — leaders or nobles.

30 Einhardi Vita KaroliVI.

31 Lib. Pont. I.457.

32 'Aucharius gloriosissimus dux' (Cod. Car. 19). We do not seem to be told of what district he was duke.

33 For the office of referendarius under Theodoric and Justinian, see vol. III.543º  (489) and IV.677º  (599), also my 'Letters of Cassiodorus,' p311. But he had now apparently become a more important officer, and was trusted with the custody of the royal seal. See Waitz, Verfassungs-Geschichte, III.511‑512.

34 For instance, the instructions given to a college porter as to the closing of the gates after a certain hour of night might almost be taken from the Rule of Chrodegang (c. 4).

35 This point is well brought out by Oelsner, who has an excellent chapter on 'Die Congregation der Canoniker zu Metz' (Jahrbücher, 205‑218). There is also a good article on Chrodegang in Smith's Dictionary of Christian Biography.

36 Probably just before reaching Forum Cassii (now Vetralla) on the Via Cassia. Its distance from Rome, according to the Itinerarium Antonini, is forty-four Roman miles.

37 'Conjungente vero eo Papiam.' Throughout this Life, as in most documents of this period, the word 'conjungo' is used in the modern Italian sense of 'to arrive.' 'Quando giugniamo a Roma?' = 'When do we arrive at Rome?'

38 'Praedicti vero Francorum missi imminebant fortiter apud eundem Aistulfum ut praefatum sanctissimum Papam Franciam pergere relaxaret.'

39 George of Ostia and Wilchar of Nomentum (Mentana).

40 Theophylact. We hear of him again at the next vacancy of the popedom.

41 Relieving officers: see vol. V p287. They probably came to attend to the commissariat of the party.

42 'Deo praevio ad Francorum conjunxit clusas.' see vol. V p223 for the events which made Aosta and Susa Frankish.

43 Stephen II to Pippin: Ep. 7 in Codex Carolinus.

44 See vol. III p410 (p370, 2nd ed.).

45 Adonis Chronicon: Pertz, MonumentaII.319. I owe this quotation to Oelsner.

46 Duchesne (I.458) copies his interesting epitaph.

47 Fredegarius' Continuer (35) mentions the Saxon war of 753. It was on his return from thence that Pippin heard of the death of his half-brother Grifo.

48 This is the place which the Neustrians now call Thionville and the Austrasians Diedenhofen.

49 The full description of Ponthion seems to be Canton Thiéblemont, Arrondissement Vitry-le‑Français,º Département de la Marne. It is too insignificant to be marked on our ordinary maps, but its neighbour Blesme may be found, between Vitry and Bar-le‑duc.

Thayer's Note: GoogleMaps shows both these places still to be very small.

50 I think this is how we must understand the papal biographer.A hundred miles from Thionville would scarcely do more than bring him to Ponthion.

51 'Cui et vice stratoris usque in aliquantum locum juxta ejus sellarem properavit' (Lib. Pont. in vitâ Steph. II, p447, ed. Duchesne). This 'vice stratoris,' the self-humiliation of a king to act the part of a groom, is a point much insisted upon by the papal scribes. The reader may remember that the same words are used in the Donation of Constantine (see p149), the first Christian Emperor being there represented as glorying in the fact that he had performed 'stratoris officium' for Silvester. Whether that passage in the Donation suggested to Pippin the assumption of a groom's office or vice versâ is a question much discussed, but on which, on mere a priori grounds, it seems to me impossible to arrive at certainty.

52 These details as to the self-abasement of the Pope, absent from the Liber Pontificalis, are given us by the author of the Chronicon Moissiacense.

53 'Ibidem beatissimus papa praefatum Christianissimum regem lacrimabiliter deprecatus est ut per pacis foedera causam beati Petri et reipublicae Romanorum disponeret. Qui de praesenti jurejurando eundem beatissimum papam satisfecit omnibus ejus mandatis et ammoni­tionibus sese totis nisibus obedire, et ut illi placitum fuerit Exarchatum Ravennae et reipublicae jura seu loca reddere modis omnibus.'

There are two or three points in these sentences which call for especial notice.

1. What is the meaning of 'per pacis foedera'? Does it mean 'by peaceful negociation with Aistulf' or 'by a treaty of alliance between Pippin and the Pope'? I incline to think the former, but I do not feel sure of it.

2. What is the meaning of 'de praesenti jurejurando'? Of course some contrast is implied with 'de futuro', but how does that contrast come in?

3. What can be the meaning of 'ut illi placitum fuerit'? In the grammar of the Liber Pontificalis ut with the subjunctive may be as quite as probably as that. Dare we translate as I have done above, 'when he should have called a placitum' of the Franks, that being necessary to enable him to make such a donation? This translation if possible would throw a little light on the words 'de praesenti.' The first part of the assurance is by verba de praesenti, the second by verba de futuro. But possibly it is only a clumsy way of saying, 'and that he had made up his mind to restore the Exarchate,' and so on.

54 The generally accepted date for this event is July 28, 754: but see Note at the end of this chapter.

55 She was 'regalibus induta cycladibus,' says the Clausula. The cyclas was a magnificently embroidered robe of some thin material, close-fitting round the neck but sweeping the ground in a wide circle, whence its name.

Thayer's Note: We have several references to the cyclas in the first thru the third centuries A.D. (the brief article Cyclas in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities gives citations); whether it had kept the same character five hundred years later is of course an open question.

56 This anathema is mentioned by the author of a fragment known as the Clausula, believed to have been written at S. Denis in 767. It is published in Bouquet's Recueil des Historiens de France, V.9 (copied by Waitz, Verfassungs-Geschichte, III.69, n. 2), and by Duchesne, Lib. Pont. I.458. The account of the coronation in the Clausula is as follows: — 'Postea per manus ejusdem Stephani pontificis die uno in beatorum praedictorum martirum Dionisii Rustici et Eleutherii ecclesiâ ubi et venerabilis vir Fulradus Archipresbyter et Abbas esse cognoscitur, in regem et patricium una cum praedictis filiis Carolo et Carlomanno in nomine sanctae Trinitatis unctus et benedictus est.'

57 II.344, 405, 540º (347, 401, 526), V.216, n.

58 VI.496.

59 See Oelsner, 144; Baxmann, Politik der Päpste, I.242; Hegel, I.209. I do not enter into the question in what sense the title Patricius was applied to Charles Martel by Gregory II (in a letter of Dec. 4, 724).

60 The Papal biographer places the sickness of the Pope after the coronation of Pippin, but it certainly seems more probable that it preceded it.

61 Quierzy or Kiersy.

62 It may be questioned whether this threat to return home was uttered at Carisiacum in August, 754, or at Brennacum in March, 755. I am even disposed to suggest (but this is a mere conjecture) that Pippin desired to commence the campaign soon after his coronation in July, 754, but was hindered from doing so by the opposition of his nobles at Carisiacum: that to please them he resumed the path of negotiation with Aistulf for the rest of the year, and then in March, 755, at the Campus Martii at Brennacum, pointing to the impossibility of getting any terms of accommodation from Aistulf, was able to persuade the recalcitrant nobles to follow his standard.

63 'Ibique congregans cunctos proceres regiae suae potestatis et eos tanti patris sanctâ ammonitione imbuens.'

64 Annales Laurissenses; Annales Einhardi.

65 'Pontifex . . . constanter eum deprecatus est atque ammonuit et paterno affectu adhortare studuit ut promissionem illam quam ejus sanctae memoriae genitor Pippinus quondam rex et ipse praecellent­issimus Carulus cum suo germano Carulomanno atque omnibus judicibus Francorum fecerant beato Petro et ejus vicario sanctae memoriae domino Stephano juniori papae, quando Franciam perrexit, pro concedendis diversis civitatibus ac territoriis istius Italiae provinciae et contradendis beato Petro ejusque omnibus vicariis in perpetuum possidendis adimpleret in omnibus. Cumque ipsam promissionem quae Franciâ in loco qui vocatur Carisiaco facta est, sibi relegi fecisset, complacuerunt illi et ejus judicibus omnia quae ibidem erant adnexa' (Lib. Pont., Vita Hadriani, xli‑xlii).

66 'Bis et tertio juxta sepefati beatissimi pontificis ammonitionem eum deprecatus est' (Vita Stephani II, cap. xxxi).

67 Braisne-sur‑Vesle,º about fifteen miles east of Soissons.

68 'Cumque praedictus rex Pippinus quod per legatos suos petierat non impetrasset, et Aistulfus hoc facere contempsit, evoluto anno, praefatus rex ad Kal. Martias omnes Francos, sicut mos Francorum est, Bernaco villâ publicâ ad se venire praecepit' (Fred. Cont. 120). My reasons for the above date will be found in the Note at the end of the chapter.

69 'Et dum jam fere medium itineris spatium Francorum exercituum graderentur cunei' (Vita Stephani II, cap. xxxii).

70 'Alpes transiens.'

71 It will be observed that no mention is made of Ravenna in Pippin's demand. This omission is difficult to understand.

72 Chronicon Moissiacense (Pertz, MonumentaI.293).

73 Lyons, Vienne and Maurienne are mentioned by the Continuer of 'Fredegarius.' The rest of the route may be inferred from these points.

74 An interpolation in the Liber Pontificalis of very early date, and probably trustworthy, states that many masses were celebrated by the Pope at Maurienne in the church of John the Baptist (probably accompanied with prayer for the success of the expedition), and that Pippin at the same time consecrated to the service of God the money and the presents with which he had vainly attempted to soften the heart of the Lombard (Vita Stephani II, cap. xxxiv p450, apud Duchesne).

75 'Cum telis et machinis et multo apparatu, quod nequiter contra rempublicam et sedem Romanam apostolicam admiserat' (Fred. Contin. 37).

76 Vol. V 223.

77 'Pene omnem exercitum suum quod (sic) secum adduxerat, tam ducibus comitibus vel omnes majores natu gentis Langobardorum in eo praelio omnes amisit, et ipse quodam monte rupis vix lapsus evasit' (Fredegarii Continuatio, 31). To this chronicler we owe the fullest account of the battle, but the Papal biographer gives us a few further details.

78 This is probably the fact represented by the large words of the chronicler, 'omnia quae in giro fuit vastans partibus Italiae maxime igne concremavit, totam regionem illam vastavit.'

79 'Tunc jamfatus beatissimus et coangelicus papa Pippinum saepefatum deprecatus est Christianissimum regem ut jam amplius malum non proveniret' (Vita Stephani II, cap. xxxvi).

80 'In scripto foederae pactum adfirmantes inter Romanos Francos et Langobardos . . . Spopondit ipse Aistulfus cum universis suis judicibus sub terribili et fortissimo sacramento, atque in eodem pacti foedere per scriptam paginam adfirmavit se ilico redditurum civitatem Ravennantium cum diversis civitatibus' (Ibid.). 'Restore' to whom? The mention of 'Romanos' as a party to the treaty entitles us to say 'to the Roman Republic.'

81 This from Fredegarii Continuatio, 37.

82 Codex Carolinus, Ep. 6 (Jaffé). There is no date to this letter, but it was probably written in the autumn of 755. This letter was entrusted to Fulrad, abbot of S. Denis returning from Rome whither he had accompanied the Pope. Another letter written at the same time, similar in tenour but somewhat expanded, was sent by Wilchar, bishop of Nomentum (Mentana), who had accompanied Stephen to the Frankish Court.

83 'Nec unius enim palmi terrae spatium beato Petro sanctaeque Dei ecclesiae reipublicae Romanorum reddere passus est.' It is worthy of note that there is no et between 'ecclesiae' and 'reipublicae.' The two are apparently treated as one.

84 'Sine effectu justitiae beati Petri.'

85 'Per donationis paginam,' 'per donationem vestram manu firmatam.'

86 'Velociter et sino ullo impedimento, quod beato Petro promisistis per donationem vestram, civitates et loca atque omnes obsides et captivos beato Petro reddite, vel omnia quae ipsa donatio continet' (Cod. Car., Ep. 7). I do not think we have any explanation of the allusion to hostages given by Rome to the Lombard.

87 Probably. The Pope says, 'cunctus Langobardorum exercitus Tusciae partibus' (Ibid., Ep. 8).

88 See vol. IV p144 (128, 2nd ed.).

89 Porta S. Pauli = Porta Ostiensis; S. Iohannis = Asinaria. Between them were Metrovia, Latina, and Appia.

90 These are letters 8 and 9 of the Codex Carolinus in Jaffé's edition. Like their two predecessors, they were no doubt written in duplicate (with slight variations), in order to ensure that one at least of them should reach the Frankish king.

91 'Servos Dei monachos qui pro officio divino in monasteriis morabantur, plagis maximis tundentes, plures laniaverunt. Et sanctimoniales feminas . . . abstrahentes cum magna crudelitate polluerunt: qui etiam et in ipsa contaminatione alias interficere visi sunt.' The passage is not very clear: but I do not think the Pope charges the Lombard soldiers with intentional murder either of monks or nuns, but with savage and brutal treatment of both, which in some cases caused their death.

92 'Et vineas fere ad radices absciderunt: et messes conterentes omnino devoraverunt.' But what harvests could there be even in the Campagna in the middle of February? Does not this statement show the rhetorical character of the whole passage?

93 'Omnia extra urbem ferro et igne devastans atque funditus demoliens consumsit, imminens vehementius isdem pestifer Aistulfus, ut hanc Romanam capere potuisset urbem. Nam et multa corpora sanctorum effodiens eorum sancta cymiteria ad magnum animae suae detrimentum abstulit' (Vita Stephani II, cap. xli).

94 This fact of the surrender of Narni by the Lombards must be taken as qualifying Stephen's rhetorical statement (Ep. 7) that Aistulf had not been willing to restore a hand's breadth of territory to St. Peter.

95 'Castrum itaque illum Narniensem quem pridem reddiderat misso Francorum a jure beati Petri abstulit' (Vit. Steph. xli). 'Civitatem Narniensem quam beato Petro concessistis' (Cod. Car., Ep. 8).

96 'Warneharium religiosum abbatem missum vestrum.' 'Praefatus vero Warneharius pro amore beati Petri loricam se induens, per muros istius afflictae Romanae civitatis vigilabat die noctuque: et pro nostrâ omnium Romanorum defensione atque liberatione, ut bonus adleta (sic) Christi, decertavit totis suis cum viribus' (Codex Carolinus, Ep. 8). The name of Warnehar's convent does not seem to be recorded.

97 Thomaric and Comita.

98 'Quam ob rem constricti vix potuimus marino in itinere praesentes nostras litteras et missum ad vestram Christianitatem dirigere' (Ibid.).

99 'Petrus vocatus apostolus a Jesu Christo Dei vivi filio . . . et per me omnis Dei catholica et apostolica Romana ecclesia capud (sic), omnium ecclesiarum Dei . . . adque ejusdem almae ecclesiae Stephanus praesul: Gracia pax et virtus,' &c. (Codex Carolinus, 10).

100 I cannot express my own view of this document better than in the words of Gibbon: 'See this most extraordinary letter in the Codex Carolinus, Epist. III p92 [ed. Jaffé, pp55‑60]. The enemies of the popes have charged them with fraud and blasphemy: yet they surely meant to persuade rather than deceive. This introduction of the dead or of immortals was familiar to the ancient orators, though it is executed on this occasion in the rude fashion of the age.'

101 The few and meagre particulars that we possess as to this campaign are furnished us by the Continuer of 'Fredegarius,' § 38.

102 'Proto a secretis.'

103 'Silentiarius.'

104 It is not quite clear from the Papal biographer's narrative whether John the silentiarius accompanied George the proto a secretis to Pavia or not. The rest of the narrative is in the singular number.

105 'Fredegar.' Continuatio, § 38.

106 Comacchio.

107 The Annales Mettenses.

108 'Haistulphus autem per judicium Francorum, thesauri quod in Ticino erat tertiam partem Pippino tradidit: sacramenta iterum renovans obsidesque tribuens, promisit se partibus Francorum semper esse fidelem et annuale tributum, quod Francis debuerat per missos suos annis singulis esse transmissurum et ea quae sancto Petro vel Stephano papae annis praeteritis promiserat cuncta reddidit.'

109 'Primatos.'

110 'Una cum superscripta donatione de eis a suo rege emissa.'

111 'In confessione beati Petri.'


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