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Bill Thayer

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Note A

This webpage reproduces a section of
Italy and Her Invaders

Thomas Hodgkin

published by the Clarendon Press

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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Note C

Vol. VII
Note B

The Fragmentum Fantuzzianum

In connection with the 'Donation of Pippin' at Carisiacum I must mention, though at the risk of obscuring rather than enlightening the discussion, a certain document which goes generally under the above title, and which was published by Fantuzzi in his 'Monumenti Ravennati' (VI.265). This paper is thus described by Döllinger (Die Papst-Fabeln des Mittelalters, p81): 'Soon after [Pippin's victories], under Charles a document was invented, which, composed in very barbarous, sometimes barely intelligible Latin, puts into the mouth of King Pippin a detailed recital of the transactions between himself, the Greeks, the Lombards and Pope Stephen, and then proceeds to hand over to the Pope almost the whole of Italy, including even Istria and Venetia, partly by way of present gift, partly as in the case of Benevento and Naples, by way of promise when their conquest should have been effected.'

The heading of the document is 'Pippinus . . . almo Patri beatissimoque Apostolorum Principi Petro et per eum sancto in Christo Patri Gregorio [sic] Apostolicâ sublimitate fulgenti ejusque successoribus usque in finem saeculi.'

This certainly seems to imply that Pippin is addressing Gregory as Pope, and thus at once to put the document out of court, since we know that Gregory III died Dec. 10, 741, twelve years at least before the events occurred which this document professes to describe. But strangely enough, it goes on to speak of 'beatissimus ejusdem almae sedis Stephanus': and describes (in almost unintelligible Latin) how an ambassador has come from Leo, Emperor of Constantinople, authorising the Pope to accept the patronage and defence offered to him by Pippin. Here again we have a startling anachronism. The Emperor Leo III died in 740: Leo IV came to the throne in 775: the whole interval between them, including the years in which this alleged donation was made, is occupied by the reign of Constantine Copronymus. The ambassador who is represented as bringing this surprising and in fact impossible message from the Emperor is named Marinus, possibly from some confused remembrance of that life-guardsman Marinus who was administering the Ducatus Romae in the Emperor's name when the plot  p225 was laid against the life of Gregory II, which was supposed to have the Emperor's sanction.​1 But that was some thirty years previous to the time with which this document ought to be dealing.

It goes on to describe the wrath of Aistulf at learning the negotiations between the Pope and the Franks, his ineffectual attempts to keep Stephen in Italy, Stephen's journey into Francia and cordial reception by the king who is the supposed author of the document. We have then the account of two embassies to Aistulf with offers of mediation and of 27,000 solidi in silver and 12,000 in gold, if the Lombard will do justice to the claims of 'our fair mother the Church, which is without doubt the head and origin of the whole Christian religion.' Then follows the story of the critical illness of the Pope and his marvellous recovery, after which

'he immediately began earnestly to entreat us in the name of the Lord and by the intercession of St. Peter that we would rise up boldly against Aistulf and the nation of the Lombards and undertake the defence of the Holy Roman Church and of all its possessions. Moved by these exhortations, we ordered that all the counts, tribunes (sic), dukes and marquesses of our realm should come into our presence after Easter-week, and also all such persons with whom we are accustomed to take counsel on such matters.​2 And when they had all come together according to our bidding, we resolved that on the third day before the Kalends of May [29th of April] we would with Christ's help commence hostilities against Longombardia (sic), on this condition and under this covenant of agreement, that we promise to thee the most blessed Peter, key‑bearer of the kingdom of heaven, and to thy lovely​3 Vicar the excellent Pope Stephen and his successors to the end of the world, with the consent of all our Frankish abbots, dukes, and counts, that if the Lord God shall give us the victory over the nation of the Lombards, all the cities, duchies, and towns​4 of the Exarchate of Ravenna, and all that aforetime by the Emperor's bounty was subject to the [Papal] (?) domination, and all that  p226 has been ravaged and wrested from them by the most wicked generation of the Lombards, shall belong eternally to thee [Peter] and to thy Vicars. And we reserve to ourselves and our successors no right within the territory thus granted, save only that we should benefit by your prayers for the repose of our soul, and that we [Pippin, Charles, and Carloman?] should be called by you and your people Patricians of the Romans.'

Then follows the delimitation of the territory thus granted to the Pope.

'Beginning from the island of Corsica, the whole of that island, then from Pistoia, by Luna, to Lucca, by the monastery of St. Vivian, by the Mons Pastoris, to Parma, thence to Reggio, to Mantua, to Verona, to Vicenza, thence to Monselice, by the Lagoons,​5 the Duchy of the Venetias and Istria in its entirety, and all cities, towns, &c. thereto belonging. Thence to the city of Adria, Comacchio, Ravenna, with the whole undiminished Exarchate, the Emilia, both the Tuscanies (the Lombard and the Roman), the Pentapolis, Montefeltro, Urbino, Cagli, Luceoli, Gubbio, Iesi, Osimo: thence to the Duchy of Spoleto in its entirety: similarly the whole Duchy of Perugia, Bomarzo, Narni, Otricoli, Marturanum (?), Castrum vetus (?), Collinovo (?), Selli (?), Populonia, Centum Cellae [Civita Vecchia], Porto and Ostia, then Campania in its integrity [it included the old Latium], Anagni, Segni, Frisiliones (?), Piperni (?), Verutum (?), Patrica (?) and Castrum Nebitar (?), Terracina, Fondi, Spelunca (?), Gaeta. And if our Lord God shall think fit to subdue unto us Benevento and Naples [they shall be added to the foregoing]. All the before-mentioned territories, that is the Emilia, Pentapolis, both the Tuscanies, the Duchy of Perugia, and the Duchy of Spoleto, do we concede in their entirety to thee, O most blessed Apostle Peter, with all their cities, towns, monasteries and bishoprics under our oath here attested, "Sic et sic et caetera: et deinde sub quâ ratione hoc renovaret pactum." ' The rest of the MS. is lost.

So runs this extraordinary document. On looking at the map we see that it virtually concedes to the Pope the whole of Italy except a portion of the upper valley of the Po, left probably as a sort of solatium to the despoiled Lombard king,  p227 and perhaps some portions of Apulia and Calabria which were still held by the Greeks. Out of deference to the 'Grecian' Emperor also, his possessions in Sicily and Sardinia are not meddled with. It will be observed in what great detail the little towns of the Ducatus Romae and the Pentapolis are mentioned, while Venetia, Istria and the other more remote parts of Italy are left vague. One would say that the geographical knowledge of the author of the document did not extend far beyond Middle Italy.

That the document is a fabrication there can be little doubt. There is no question of the good faith of the editor, Fantuzzi, who says that it is a copy given to him by Abbate Canonici and taken from the 'Codice Trevisano.' As to this latter title we are told that Bernardo Trevisano, a Venetian nobleman and an eminent man of letters, caused copies to be made of many documents which were existing at the close of last century in the Archivio Segreto of the Republic of Venice, especially in the volumes of Pacta and Commemoralia. It seems to be not impossible that the original so that is still lying hid in some repository of state-papers at Venice.

But whatever may be the external history of the document, the anachronisms and mis‑statements which it contains stamp it as a forgery. Fantuzzi fights hard for its authenticity, suggesting that Gregory may be meant not for Pope Gregory (II or III), but for a legate of Stephen; that possibly Leo may be the young son of Constantine Copronymus associated with his father in the Empire, and that his father's name may have accidentally dropped out. All this however is but fighting a hopeless battle. Scholars are now apparently unanimous in looking on the Fragmentum Fantuzzianum as a forgery, but most of them seem to consider it an early forgery, probably belonging to the reign of Charles the Great, possibly to that of his son. The authors of 'The Pope and the Council' who write under the name of Janus' say unhesitatingly that it was fabricated in order that it might be laid before Charles the Great after he had achieved the conquest of Italy, to induce him to make the Donation (very similar in its terms) which is described in the Life of Pope Hadrian. The difficulty of this theory is that it is hard to understand why a document framed for this purpose should have contained such glaring errors as those contained in the names of Pope Gregory  p228 and Emperor Leo, errors which must, one would think, have been at once detected by a contemporary, though a younger contemporary, such as Charles the Great. Oelsner (pp496‑498) suggests with some plausibility that the confusion arising from the introduction of the names of Gregory and Leo has been caused by following the guidance of Theophanes, who is equally astray as to the true succession of events in Western Christendom. His opinion is that the document was forged about 824, and that the main object of the forger is expressed in the sentence which disclaims any reserved rights of sovereignty over the ceded territories. This, rather than the exact delimitation of the papal dominions, was, he considers, the aim of the fabricator: it was a qualitative rather than a quantitative addition to the rights of the Holy See.

The above suggestion, however, as to the influence of Theophanes on the fabricator of the document raises a curious question. If Theophanes were consulted it would be by some one acquainted with Greek, and probably in some connection with the Byzantine Court. Now one of the strangest things to be found in the document is its audacious assertion that it was with the full concurrence of the Emperor that the Pope was seeking the protection of the Frankish king. Does not this look like an attempt on the part of the writer to reconcile the Papal claims with allegiance to the Emperor at Constantinople? And who so likely to make such an attempt as an ecclesiastic in Venice, sorely tried in the beginning of the ninth century between the conflicting claims of East and West on her allegiance? And may this not explain the fact, otherwise so mysterious, that the document turns up among the Venetian archives?

One cannot help hoping that more will yet be discovered as to this curious document. Though all men now hold it to be a forgery,​6 as has been said they take it for an early forgery (the very barbarism of the style somewhat supporting this conclusion), and for our purpose, here, as with the Donation of Constantine, an early forgery is only less valuable than an early authentic document, since it shows what was passing in the minds of the men of that day, especially in the minds of the astute and far‑calculating scribes of the Papal Curia.

The Author's Notes:

1 See vol. VI p447.

2 'Cum quibus de talibus inire debuissemus consilium.' This looks like a borrowing from Einhard, who says 'quidam e primoribus Francorum cum quibus consultare solebat' (Vita Caroli, vi). This would throw the date of the composition of the document later than is suggested by Döllinger.

3 'Almo.'

4 'Castra.'

5 Bituneas: see Filiasi, Memorie de' Veneti, VII.10, who says that by this word the barbarians understood the marshes and valleys of the Venetians from Istria to the mouths of the Po.

6 Troya (IV.510‑524) argued for its authenticity, but failed to convince his readers.

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