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Book IX
Chapter 4

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 IX
Chapter 6

Book IX (continued)

Vol. VIII
p165
Chapter V

Pope and Emperor

Sources: —

The Frankish Annalists and the Liber Pontificalis are still practically our only sources.

Guides: —

It would be a hopeless task to attempt to enumerate the authors who have written well and helpfully on the subject of the following chapter. I will content myself with mentioning four: — Waitz, Verfassungs-Geschichte (vol. III, chapter 2, 'Die Aufrichtung des Kaiserthums,' and chapter 3, 'Königthum und Kaiserthum in Verbindung'); Dahn, 'Urgeschichte der Germanischen und Romanischen Völker' (III.1071‑1084), and 'Deutsche Geschichte' (II.354‑372); Von Döllinger, 'Das Kaiserthum Karls des Grossen und seiner Nachfolger' (Akademische Vorträge, III.98‑174); and, pre‑eminently, Bryce, 'Holy Roman Empire.' A careful study of the authorities relating to the great event of 800 only increases the marvel that a young Oxford student writing a Prize Essay nearly forty years ago should have obtained such a wide and comprehensive view of his subject, and have left so little to be said by those who come after him.

To a student of the life of Charles the Great the question will sometimes suggest itself whether his connection with the affairs of Italy and the Church of Rome brought him more of gladness or of vexation. Often when his head was already weary and his  p166 hands over-full with the care of his long wars against the heathen, there would come some message from over the Alps which seemed to cause his cup of bitterness to overflow. Even such a message came to him in the spring of 799; a rumour of terrible deeds done in Rome, which was followed in July by the actual appearance in his camp at Paderborn of a ghastly figure, the successor of St. Peter, the most venerated person in Western Europe, with bloodshot eyes, with pallid face, with mutilated tongue which could scarce speak the customary words of blessing. What barbarian hands had inflicted such cruel wounds on the holy Pope of Rome? Not the hands of 'unspeakable Lombards,' nor even of tyrannous Byzantine officials, but the hands of his own Romans, of ministers of his Church, brought up in the shadow of the Lateran. To understand what had happened we must go back rather more than three years to the day after the death of Hadrian.

Elevation of Leo III, Dec. 27, 1795. Leo III, who on the 27th of December, 795 — only two days after the decease of his predecessor — was raised to the vacant throne, was by birth a Roman.1 His education had been purely ecclesiastical, and through the incense-smoke of the conventional praises of the biographer we may perhaps discern that he was an eloquent man, and eminent as an alms-giver, both from his own funds and from those supplied to him by admiring members of his congregation. He had passed through the grades of deacon and presbyter, and was officiating as vestararius when the unanimous  p167 choice — so it is affirmed — of the nobles, clergy and people of Rome raised him to the pontificate.

One of the earliest cares of the new Pope was to write to the Frankish king assuring him of his humble obedience and promising fidelity to his person.2 Charles's letter to the new Pope. Charles replied in a letter brought by the 'Homeric' Angilbert, in which he condoled with the Roman Church on the death of his 'sweetest father' Hadrian, mentioned the fact that he had intended to send some presents (part of the Avar spoil), which, since too late for Hadrian, were now offered for the acceptance of Leo, and desired the new Pope to confer with Angilbert 'on all matters which might seem necessary for the exaltation of the holy Church of God, the stability of your honour, and the consolidation of our patriciate.'

Both to Angilbert and to Leo himself Charles speaks of the necessity that the Pope should obey the canons and show purity in morals, firmness in faith, and honesty in his conversation. Viewed in the light of subsequent events, this anxious care for the Pope's morality suggests the thought that Charles or one of his advisers, possibly Alcuin, had heard unfavourable reports as to the stability of character of the eloquent and popular vestararius.

Relative duties of King and Pope. One paragraph in this letter is so important as describing the relation — in itself so hard to define — between Pope and Frankish King, that it will be well to translate it literally:

'For as I made a covenant of holy compaternity with your most blessed predecessor, so I desire to conclude an inviolable treaty of the same  p168 faith and love with your Blessedness, that by your prayers drawing down upon me the grace of God, I may be everywhere followed by the apostolic benediction, and the most holy seat of the Roman Church may be always protected by our devotion. It is our duty, with the help of God, everywhere externally to defend the Church of Christ with our arms from the inroads of pagans and the devastation of infidels, and internally to fortify it by our recognition of the Catholic faith. It is yours, most holy Father, with hands like the hands of Moses raised in prayer to God, to help our warfare, so that by your intercession, by the gift and guidance of God, the Christian people may everywhere and always win the victory over the enemies of His holy name, and the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be magnified in all the world.'

The Pope sends to Charles the keys of the apostolic crypt and the banner of Rome. This conception (which was also the Roman conception) of the duties of the Frankish monarch towards the Church was aptly symbolised by the presents sent him by Leo in announcing his own elevation to the pontificate. They were, the keys of the confessio or crypt in which reposed the body of the Apostle Peter, and the banner of the City of Rome. So thoroughly united were now the two ideas of the Galilean fisherman and of the City founded by Romulus. Probably, even to themselves, Hadrian and Leo would have found it hard to explain how much they claimed on behalf of the one and how much on behalf of the other.

Mosaic at the Lateran. At this day the pilgrim who visits the Eternal City may see the graphic embodiment of these ideas in a mosaic the original of which was perhaps affixed to the walls of the Lateran in the very year of Leo III's  p169 accession. On an eighteenth-century building adjoining the Lateran church may be seen portrayed, on a brilliant gold background, the gigantic figure of St. Peter, who dispenses gifts to a suppliant on either side of him, men of smaller stature, as is befitting for contemporaries when brought into the presence of the saints of old. On his right hand kneels Pope Leo, to whom he is giving the pallium of hierarchical pre‑eminence; on his left, King Charles, wearing a moustache, and with a curious conical cap on his head, to whom he gives the consecrated banner. In the barbarous misspelled Latin of the time the Apostle is implored to give life to the pious pontiff Leo, and victory to King Charles.3

Unpopularity of Pope Leo III in Rome. For certain reasons which are not very clear to us, the position of the new Pope was a precarious one. Throughout his long Papacy he seems always to have been hated by a party among the Roman nobles.4  p170 Possibly there was something in his moral character which gave an easy handle to slander — it is not denied that his enemies accused him of adultery and perjury — but again it may be fairly argued that the scoundrels who mutilated his body would not hesitate, if the occasion offered, to murder his good name. Certain it is that the most conspicuous of his assailants were two men, nephews of the deceased Pope Hadrian, one nomenclator and the other sacellarius in the Papal court, Paschalis and Campulus.

The conspirators Paschalis and Campulus. Let us look for a moment at the previous career of these two Papal nephews. In a letter of Hadrian to Charles written in May, 778,5 we find that 'our nephew Paschalis' is sent by the Pope to recall the citizens of Terracina to their obedience. In two letters written a little later, Campulus, bishop of Gaeta, appears as the informer concerning the machinations of the Greeks and Beneventans. The name being not a very common one, it seems probable that this was the same person as Hadrian's nephew. Thus we have two men whose detestable deeds committed against the venerable person of the Pope are about to be related, high in office in the Roman Church and curia, and evidently placed there by the favour of their uncle. Hadrian's own character must suffer somewhat for the ill deeds of his kinsmen. Either he was himself unscrupulous in the promotion of his relatives, or he was grievously deficient in discernment of character.

Procession of the Greater Litany, April 25, 799. On the 25th of April, 799, the Pope prepared to ride along the street which is now called the Corso and forth along the Via Flaminia, in order to celebrate  p171 the Greater Litany. This ceremony had taken the place of the old Pagan Robigalia, and, like that festival, was intended to implore the Divine Providence to avert rust and mildew from the springing corn.6º As the Pope set forth from the Lateran palace, the primicerius Paschal met him, and with hypocritical courtesy apologised for not being robed in his chasuble. 'I am in weak health,' said he, 'and therefore have come without my planeta.' doubtless the fact was that the heavy chasuble would have hindered the bloody deed upon which his soul was set. The Pope gave him his pardon, and the two conspirators, as if in lowly attendance upon him, and with words of treacherous sweetness on their lips, followed in his train.

Savage attack on the Pope. The procession was meant to go forth by the Porta del Popolo, cross over to the Ponte Molle, and wind round under Monte Mario to St. Peter's. The chief rendezvous for the citizens was the church of St. Lawrence in Lucina.7 At the neighbouring monastery of St. Stephen and St. Silvester8 the main body of the conspirators was assembled. They rushed forth and clustered round their two leaders. The people who had assembled to view the procession,  p172 unarmed and prepared only for a religious rite, dispersed in panic terror. Leo was thrown violently to the ground; Paschal stood at his head and Campulus at his feet; some of the ruffians in the crowd tried to cut out his tongue, others struck him in the eyes, and then they dispersed, leaving the Supreme Pontiff of Rome blinded and speechless in the middle of the Corso.9

There was evidently a great lack of plan and purpose in the truculent villains who did this cruel deed, and there is also a disposition on the part of the Papal biographer to exaggerate the injuries inflicted on the unhappy pontiff in order to magnify the miracle of his recovery. According to this authority, the impious men, 'like veritable Pagans,' returned to their victim, and finding him still alive, dragged him to the 'confessio' of the monastery of Stephen and Silvester, and there 'again twice more thoroughly pulled out his eyes and tongue, and striking him with divers blows and clubs, mangled him and left him only half alive, rolling in his blood before the very altar.'10

It is not easy to recover the exact details of this  p173 atrocity, but on the whole it seems safe to accept the cautious statement of some of the Frankish annalists,11 that the conspirators amputated the tongue of their victim and endeavoured to blind him, but did not entirely succeed in the latter operation.

The Pope is imprisoned but escapes. The Pope was at first confined in the monastery of the two saints, Stephen and Silvester, but fearing a rescue his captors conveyed him by night to the monastery of St. Erasmus on the Coelian,a a Greek foundation, whose abbot, or (as he was styled) hegumenos, appears to have been in league with the malefactors.12 While he was imprisoned here, a miracle, according to the biographer, was wrought by the intercession of St. Peter, and he 'both recovered his sight, and his tongue was restored to him for speaking.' Moreover, there was still some loyalty left in the servants of the Lateran Court. The chamberlain13 Albinus, taking counsel with some faithful friends, planned successfully his master's escape from the Greek convent. He was let down the wall by a rope in the night-time, and being received by his friends at the bottom was conveyed by them to St. Peter's. The people, in whose hearts there was doubtless a reaction  p174 of pity towards the victim of such a barbarous outrage, gathered round him, and in the familiar words of the Psalter praised 'the Lord God of Israel who alone doeth marvellous things, the Lord who is the light and salvation of His people,' for the deliverance granted to His servant. The conspirators, who felt themselves baffled, were wellnigh ready to turn their arms against one another in their rage and terror, but in fact accomplished nothing but the ignoble revenge of sacking the house of the faithful Albinus.

The Pope is delivered by Winichis, duke of Spoleto. Still Leo's position in the great but unfortified basilica of St. Peter was by no means free from danger. It happened however that Winichis, the brave general who defeated the Greeks in 788, and who had since been made duke of Spoleto in succession to Hildeprand, was now at St. Peter's in the capacity of missus from King Charles.14 He had a band of soldiers with him, and marching at their head he escorted Leo to the safe shelter of the Umbrian stronghold, Spoleto. Leo takes refuge at the court of Charles. From thence in the early summer he set forth upon his journey to the Frankish court, accompanied says the biographer, by delegates — bishops, nobles of Rome and provincial nobles — from all the chief cities of Italy. After meeting first Charles's arch-chaplain Hildebald and then his son Pippin, who were sent to welcome him on to Frankish soil, he arrived, as we have seen, at Charles's camp of Paderborn about the month of July.15 He was  p175 received by the king with all the usual demonstrations of reverent welcome, and he with his large train of attendants had another camp pitched for them near the royal tents. Apparently Charles reserved judgment on the charges brought against Leo (for his opponents also found their way to the camp and persisted in their accusations) until the matter should have been thoroughly sifted by a commission sent for that purpose to Rome. But in the meantime king and courtiers listened to the marvellous story of the miraculous restoration of sight to the ruined eyes and the power of speech to the mutilated tongue, and the Pope's ministrations were invoked for the consecration of the new church which Charles had erected at Paderborn; an evident proof that Leo was still in the eyes of his powerful protector the lawful pontiff. In the act of consecration the Pope deposited in the altar of the church some relics of the protomartyr Stephen which he had brought with him from Rome, assuring the king that their mysterious efficacy would protect the church from a repetition of the destruction which it had before frequently undergone at the hands of the heathen.16

Connection of Leo III's visit with the revival of the Imperial idea. Were the summer months of 799 during which Leo abode at the court of Charles occupied by a negotiation between the two heads of Christendom, the result of which was that Leo was restored to the pontificate on condition of raising Charles to the Imperial throne? That is an assertion which has been sometimes made, but it rests on mere conjecture; there is not a shred of  p176 contemporary evidence in support of it; and, at any rate in the crude form in which I have here stated it, the assertion lacks probability.

At the same time we may well believe that Leo during these months of his abode at Paderborn perceived what may have been hidden from him before, that the learned men and the churchmen at Charles's court, with their heads full of the literature and the memories of ancient Rome, true men of the Renaissance as they were, had conceived the idea of reviving the old and genuine dignity of Roman Imperator — something distinct from the spurious imitation of it which passed current at Constantinople — on behalf of their mighty Frankish lord. Four of the capital cities of the old Empire, Milan, Trier, Ravenna, Rome, already recognised Charles as their master, while two only, Constantinople and Nicomedia, remained to the 'Greek' Emperors. The extent of old Imperial territory which owned the sway of the Frank was enormously larger than the dwindled heritage of the East over which Irene ruled, and there were great and fair territories in central Europe which Varus and Drusus had failed to conquer, but which Charles, 'the enlarger of the Empire,'17 had won for civilisation. All these arguments were doubtless often urged in the halls of Aachen and by the camp-fires of Paderborn; and Charles probably listened to them, pleased but not convinced by his courtiers' zeal for his exaltation.

Alcuin on 'the Imperial dignity.' We have seen that Angilbert had already used the epithet 'Augustus' of his royal master; but it is in  p177 Alcuin's correspondence that the word Empire first clearly emerges. He had received a somewhat languid invitation from Charles to repair to the court and meet the apostolic exile. But, happily for us, the invitation did not appear to him to be a sufficiently direct command to make it necessary for him in his feeble state of health to undertake the journey from Tours into the troublous regions of Saxon-land.18 To this feeling of slightly offended dignity we probably owe the fact that at this critical period of Charles's career we are able to trace in Alcuin's correspondence the advice given to the king by his chief counsellors.

In one very important letter19 written by 'Flaccus Albinus' to 'the peaceful king David' immediately after the receipt of the tidings of the outrage in the streets of Rome, Alcuin says: —

Pope. 'Hitherto there have been three persons in the world higher than all others. One is the Apostolic Sublimity which is accustomed to rule by delegated power the seat of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles. But what deeds have been done to him who was ruler of that see your worshipful Goodness has deigned to inform me.

Emperor. 'The next is the Imperial Dignity and secular power of the Second Rome. How impiously the Governor of that Empire has been deposed, not by strangers,  p178 but by his own people and fellow-citizens, universal fame hath abundantly reported.

King. 'The third is the Royal Dignity, in which the providence of our Lord Jesus Christ hath ordained you for the ruler of the Christian people, more excellent in power than the other aforesaid dignities, more illustrious in wisdom, more sublime in the dignity of your kingdom.20 Lo, now upon you alone reposes the whole salvation of the Churches of Christ. You are the avenger of crime, the guide of the wanderers, the comforter of the mourners, the exaltation of the righteous.

'Have not the most flagrant instances of impiety manifested themselves in that Roman see where formerly religion and piety shone most brightly? These men, blinded in their own hearts, have blinded their own Head. . . . These are the perilous times formerly predicted by the Truth itself, because the love of many is waxing cold.

'On no account must you forego the care of the head. It is a smaller matter that the feet than that the head should be in pain.'

Alcuin proceeds to explain and expand this oracular utterance. Charles during this year (799) was intent on one of his great campaigns against the Saxons, sending his son Charles to harry Bardengau, the old home of the Lombards,21 calling in the aid of Sclavonic tribes beyond the Elbe, planning extensive transportations of Saxons into Rhine-land and repeoplings of their country by Franks. All this work, even when it is necessary —  p179 and here he repeats a previous warning against the exaction of tithes from the Saxons — Alcuin considers to be comparatively unimportant. It is at best healing the pain of the feet, while the whole head is sick and the whole heart faint. The City of Rome and the Church of Rome are the points to which he thinks that his patron's attention should be mainly directed.

It may be said that in all this we have no direct mention of the assumption of the Imperial title. This is true, but it is easy to see how arguments like those employed by Alcuin would lead up to that result. If Charles was already above the Emperor in power and wisdom, let him not be afraid to assume at least an equality of rank with him. If Rome was to be firmly governed and the repetition of such outrages as that of the 25th of April was to be prevented, let him take some title of more awful import than that anomalous 'Patriciate of the Romans' with which for the last quarter of a century he had been presiding over, but hardly guiding, the fortunes of Italy. Above all, if he was to realise his great ideal of a foster-father, guide, and protector of the Church, if he was to be the Constantine of this later age, let him be called, as Constantine was called, Imperator Romanorum.

All these speculations and suggestions, however, might have remained mere academical exercises but for the two events which had horrified the world, and which had darkened the atmosphere of the New and the Old Rome. These two events, the deposition and cruel punishment of Constantine VI, and the mutilation of Leo III, concurring as they did in the last years of the eighth century, facilitated, nay necessitated that other great event which fixed the fate of Europe for  p180 centuries. That a woman — and such a woman — should pretend to occupy the throne of the Caesars, that the Head of Western Christendom should be attacked and half-murdered in the streets of his own capital, these were two portents which shocked the conscience of the world, and which seemed to show that nothing less than a revolution, which should be also a return to the elementary principles of the great World-Empire of Rome, could cure the deep-seated malady of the age.

Leo's return to Rome, Oct. (?), 799. After a few months' residence at Paderborn, Pope Leo set out on his southward journey. He was escorted by a brilliant company, at once a guard of honour for his person on the journey, and a strong commission to try his case on their arrival in Rome. On this commission rode two archbishops, Hildibald of Cologne and Arno of Salzburg, five bishops,22 and three counts.23

On the 29th of November Leo re‑entered Rome, amid vivid manifestations of popular joy. The great ecclesiastics, the nobles, the body (whatever it may have been) which now called itself the Senate of Rome, the little army of the Ducatus Romae, the nuns, the deaconesses, all streamed forth to the Ponte Molle, with banners and with psalmody, to meet the returning Shepherd and assure him of the joy of his flock at his reappearance. There too were seen the members of the four great Scholae or guilds of foreigners, Franks, Frisians, Saxons (from England), and Lombards, who were now settled in Rome, and had quarters assigned  p181 to them between St. Peter's and the castle of S. Angelo.24 All flocked with the pontiff to the great basilica on the Vatican, where he celebrated mass, and all partook of the holy feast.

Investigation of the charges against Leo. Next day, after keeping the festival of St. Andrew, the Pope proceeded in state through the City to the Lateran palace. Here, after an interval the length of which we know not, Charles's ten commissioners took their seats in the great triclinium, and for a week or more examined into the charges which Paschalis and Campulus had brought against Leo, declared them to be unfounded, and sent the accusers as criminals into Frank-land, probably in order that the king himself might decide upon their punishment.

About a year was to elapse before the return of Leo was followed by its natural and all‑important consequence, Charles's fourth visit to Rome.

Embassies from the Greeks. In the first place, shortly after Leo's departure there appeared at the Frankish court an ambassador named Daniel, who was sent by Michael, the Patrician of Sicily, and who, having discharged his commission, was dismissed with marks of high honour and favour by the Frankish king. This was in fact the last of three embassies which had come in three successive years from the Byzantine court, or from its representative in Sicily. In 797, a certain Theoctistus had come  p182 from Nicetas, governor of Sicily, bringing a letter from Constantine VI, which was perhaps a cry for help from the doomed Emperor.25 In 798, Michael, Patrician of Phrygia, and Theophilus, a presbyter, brought a letter from Irene, apparently announcing her son's dethronement, 'on account of the insolence of his manners,'26 and her own possession of the solitary throne. The object of this embassy was evidently to strengthen Irene's position by forming an alliance with the Frank.27 It appears to have been successful, and a sign of the restored friendship between the two states was the return to Constantinople of Sisinnius, brother of the Patriarch Tarasius, who had apparently been in captivity ever since the war of 788. Lastly came the above-mentioned embassy, probably from this same Michael, now promoted to the governorship of Sicily. All these indications show that at this time Charles was not unwilling to accept the olive-branch so persistently tendered by the Augusta of Constantinople.

Death of Gerold and Eric. The autumn of this year (799) was saddened for Charles by the tidings of the death of two of his bravest warriors, slain in battle with the barbarians of the Danube. Gerold, duke of Bavaria, brother of the beloved Hildegard, was slain with two of his officers by a troop of insurgent Avars, while he was riding in front of his followers and cheering them on to the encounter; Eric, duke of Friuli,28 fell at Tersatto,29  p183 the victim of an ambush laid by the barbarous Croatians. The scene of this disaster, together with other indications,30 shows that Istria now formed part of the Frankish dominions: an important conquest, to which we are unable to assign a date, save that it must have been before the year 791. The death of Eric was an especially heavy blow for his royal master. It was he who had penetrated (795) into the far‑famed and mysterious Avar Hring, and carried off its stored‑up treasures. He had been a generous benefactor to the Church, a liberal almoner to the poor, and in all things, as far as we can trace his actions, a type of the Christian hero. His friendship for Paulinus, bishop of Aquileia, who composed for him a manual of the Christian life called 'Liber Exhortationis,' and who lamented him after his death in a dirge which recalls David's lament over Jonathan, is a beautiful incident in an age of violence and bloodshed.

Tidings of victory, Christmas, 799. King Charles spent the winter of 799 at Aachen, and the other tidings which were brought to him there were all of a joyful kind. The subjugation — as men fondly hoped the final subjugation — of the turbulent Celts of Brittany, the expulsion of the Moors from Majorca, the surrender of Huesca in Arragon, all these successes were reported to him in the course of that winter. Not less welcome probably was the arrival of a monk from Jerusalem, bringing relics and other offerings 'from the place of the Lord's resurrection,' a present from the Patriarch of the Holy City to the great King of the West. It was apparently on  p184 Christmas Day itself that the Syrian monk was dismissed in all honour from the palace, escorted by another monk named Zacharias, who was to bear the royal gifts to the Holy Place.

Charles on the coast of Picardy, 800. With the approach of spring, Charles left his palace at Aachen, sailed down the Rhine or the Meuse into the German Ocean, coasted along till he came to the mouth of the Somme, and there landed at the monastery of S. Riquier, of which his irregular son-in‑law Angilbert was head. The king's business in those regions was to strengthen the defences of the coast, and equip some kind of a fleet to repel the incursions of the Northmen, those terrible incursions which were to stain with blood the pages of the next century and to destroy so much of the infant civilisation of the Anglo-Saxon and Frankish lands.

At the shrine of St. Martin of Tours. Again putting to sea, he sailed up the Seine to Rouen, and from thence journeyed by land to the shrine of St. Martin at Tours. His avowed object was to perform his devotions at the tomb of Gaul's greatest saint, Meeting with Alcuin. but it cannot be doubted that he also desired to converse about the affairs of his kingdom with that trusted adviser, Alcuin, who was abbot of St. Martin's monastery. Some months before, Charles had invited him to be his companion in the meditated journey to Rome, but Alcuin had declined, alleging that his feeble body, racked with daily pains, was unfitted for the fatigues of so long and toilsome a journey. 'You chide me,' he said, 'that I prefer the smoke-grimed roofs of Tours to the gilded citadels of the Romans: but I know that your Prudence remembers the saying of Solomon, "It is better to dwell in a corner of the house‑top than with a brawling woman  p185 in a wide house." And let me say it in all courtesy, iron (the iron of warlike weapons) hurts my eyes more than smoke. Tours, thanks to your bounty, rests in peace, content with her smoky homes. But Rome, which has been once touched by the discord of brethren, still keeps the poison which has been instilled into her veins, and thus compels your venerable Dignity to hasten from your sweet abodes in Germany in order to repress the fury of this pestilence.'

Since, then, Alcuin persistently refused to visit Charles, Charles repaired to the monastery of Alcuin. It was indeed time that he should visit the Neustrian portion of his dominions, for he had not seen them for twenty‑two years; so persistently Austrasian in his sympathies was this great king, whom Napoleon and his courtiers loved to speak of as a Frenchman.

Death of Liutgarda, June 4, 800. The king's sojourn at Tours was prolonged by the illness and saddened by the death of his wife, his last wedded wife, the bright and genial Liutgarda. She died on the 4th of June, and was buried near the shrine of the soldier-saint. The widowed husband returned by way of Orleans to Paris and Aachen, held a great placitum at Mainz in August, and in the autumn started on his memorable fourth journey to Rome. Charles on the march to Italy. He went at the head of an army, for the affairs of Benevento wore a threatening aspect, the young prince Grimwald again stirring mutinously against the Frankish yoke. We hear of him first at Ravenna, where he tarried seven days, and then at Ancona, from whence he dispatched his son Pippin on the usual ravaging expedition against the lands of the Beneventans. On the 24th of November he arrived at Rome. On the previous day the Pope had gone to meet him at Mentana,  p186 14 miles from Rome, and after partaking of supper in his quarters, returned to the City for the night. His entry into Rome. On the morning of the 24th Charles entered Rome, being received by the citizens, the ecclesiastics, the guilds of foreigners, with the same display of banners, the same chanting of devout hymns which had welcomed the returning Leo. At the foot of the Vatican hill he dismounted and walked slowly up the steps of St. Peter's (we do not hear, as on a former visit, of his kissing the sacred stairs), while Pope and clergy sang loud their praises.

Ecclesiastical synod at St. Peter's, Dec. 2, 800. Seven days after Charles's triumphal entry into Rome a synod of all the great Roman ecclesiastics and Frankish nobles was convened in St. Peter's basilica. The Papal biographer, intent on all that redounds to the glory of his order, bids us note that the King and the Pope, who were seated, called on the archbishops, bishops and abbots to resume their seats, but that all the other priests and nobles remained standing. The King then, with that fluent and majestic eloquence of which he was master,31 set forth to the assembly the reasons for this, his fourth visit to Rome, Discussion of the charges against Pope Leo. and the necessity for a close investigation of the crimes urged against Leo by his enemies. At this point there is a slight divergence32 between our two sets of witnesses. The Frankish annalists say that the great initial difficulty of the investigation was that no one was found willing to formulate the charges against Pope Leo. Of course that might mean either (which is the  p187 more probable supposition) that the charges were wicked fabrications, or that in face of the royal favour manifested towards the Pope no one dared to come forward as his accuser. The Papal biographer, on the other hand, tells us that

'all the archbishops, bishops and abbots with one accord said, "We do not dare to judge the Apostolic See, which is the head of all the Churches of God. For to it and its Vicar all we are answerable, but the See itself is judged of no man. So has the custom been of old; but as he, the supreme pontiff, shall ordain, we will canonically obey." Then the venerable chief [Leo] said, "I will follow the footsteps of the Popes my predecessors,33 and am prepared to purge myself from these false charges which wicked men have blazed abroad against me." '

The Pope's oath of exculpation, Dec. 3, 800. All our authorities agree that this self-vindicating oath was in fact the sole event of the trial, if trial it may be called.

'On the next day at St. Peter's all the archbishops, bishops and abbots, and all the Franks in the King's service and all the Romans being present together in that church, the Pope in their presence took the four gospels in his hand, ascended the ambo, and with a clear voice said,34 "It hath been heard, dearest brethren, and spread abroad in many places, how evil men have risen up against me and laid grievous crimes to my charge. In order to try this cause, the most clement and most serene lord, King Charles, together with his bishops and  p188 nobles, hath come unto this City. Wherefore I, Leo, pontiff of the Holy Roman Church, being judged by no man and constrained by none, of mine own free will do purify myself in your sight and before God and His angels, who knoweth my conscience, and before the blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, in whose basilica we stand; as thus: These criminal and wicked deeds which they lay upon my charge, I have neither perpetrated nor ordered to be perpetrated; as God is my witness, before whose judgment-seat we shall appear and in whose sight we stand. And this I do of mine own free will, for the removal of all suspicions; not as if any such procedure were found in the canons, nor as if I would impose this custom or decree [as a precedent] on my successors in Holy Church, or on my brothers and colleagues in the episcopate." This solemn oath of innocence having been sworn, the churchmen sang the litany and gave thanks to God, the Virgin, and St. Peter.'

Condemnation of Paschalis and Campulus. In order to dismiss this mysterious business of the attack on the Pope's character we may slightly anticipate the order of events. It was probably after the lapse of several weeks35 that Paschalis and Campulus and their associates, brought back from their exile in Frank-land, were led into Charles's presence, with the chief nobles of the two nations, Frankish and Roman, standing round them, and bitterly upbraiding them for their evil deeds. The ruffians in their disgrace fell out with one another. Campulus said to Paschalis, 'In an evil hour did I behold thy face. It is thou  p189 who hast brought me into this peril.' And so with all the others: their mutual chidings and upbraidings were a clear confession of guilt. They were condemned to death as guilty of treason36 — an important evidence of the sovereign character which the Pope of Rome had now assumed — but on the intercession of the Pope the sentence was commuted into one of banishment.

The banner of Jerusalem brought to Charles. On the same day on which Pope Leo performed his solemn act of self-exculpation the presbyter Zacharias returned from Jerusalem with two monks who were commissioned by the Patriarch to bring to Charles the keys of Calvary and of the Holy Sepulchre, together with the banner of Jerusalem. The precise import of this act was perhaps doubtful. Certainly the Caliph Haroun-al‑Raschid would not have allowed that it conferred on the Frankish king any territorial sovereignty over Jerusalem. Still it was in a certain sense a recognition that the holiest piece in Christendom was under the protection of the great monarch of the West, and in so far it helped to prepare men's minds for the impending revolution.

An interval of three weeks followed, undescribed by any of our authorities; but which we may fairly conjecture to have been occupied by those deliberations between Frankish nobles and Roman ecclesiastics which are described by the author of the Chronicon Moissiacense, and which prepared the way for the next act in the drama.37

 p190  Christmas at St. Peter's. At length the fulness of time was come, and Charles, attended probably by all his Frankish courtiers and by a multitude of the citizens of Rome, went to pay his devotions on the morning of Christmas Day in the great basilica of St. Peter. That building has been often named in these pages, but I have not hitherto attempted to describe it. If we would imagine its appearance at the close of the eighth century, or indeed at any period before the beginning of the sixteenth century, the chief requisite is absolutely to exclude from our mental vision that vast Renaissance temple which Julius II and Leo X, which Bramante and Raffaele and Michel Angelo have reared upon the Vatican hill. If we must think of some still existing building, let it be S. Ambrogio at Milan or S. Paolo Fuori at Rome rather than the existing St. Peter's. Let us follow Charles and his nobles in imagination to the great basilica on the morning of Friday, the 25th of December, 800. They mount up from the banks of the Tiber by a long colonnade which stretches all the way from the castle of S. Angelo to the threshold of St. Peter's. They reverentially ascend the thirty-five steps to the platform, on which the Pope and all the great officers of his household stand waiting to receive them. Charles himself,

'In shape and gesture proudly eminent,'

with his yellow locks tinged with grey and with some furrows ploughed in his cheeks by the toils of twenty Saxon campaigns, towers above the swarthy, shaven ecclesiastics who surround the Pope. All Roman hearts are gladdened by seeing that he wears the  p191 Roman dress, the long tunic with the scarf thrown over it, and the low shoes of a Roman noble instead of the high laced‑up boots of a Teutonic chieftain.38

After the usual courteous salutations, the blended train of nobles and churchmen follow Hadrian and Charles into the basilica. They traverse first the great atrium, measuring 320 feet by 225. In the centre of the atrium rises the great fountain called Pinea, the water spouting forth from the top and from every bossy protuberance of an enormous fir‑cone. This fountain was placed there by Pope Symmachus the contemporary of Theodoric, who, like Leo III himself, was wellnigh

'Done to death by evil tongues.'

Round the fountain have begun to cluster the marble tombs of the Popes of the last four centuries.

They pass on: they enter the basilica proper, consisting of five naves; (the central nave much wider than the rest), divided from one another by four rows of monolith columns. These columns are ninety‑six in number,39 of different materials, granite, Parian marble, African marble; and they have very different histories; some, it is said, being brought from the Septizonium of Septimius Severus, and others from the various temples of heathen Rome. They are of unequal height; and not only this inequality, but many signs of rough work, notwithstanding all the splendour of gold and silver  p192 plates and the vivid colouring of the mosaics on the walls, give evidence of the haste with which the venerable fabric was originally reared — men say by the order and with the co‑operation of Constantine himself — in the days when Christianity could yet scarcely believe in the permanence of its hardly‑won victory over heathenism. Between the pillars of the central nave are hung (as it is a feast day) costly veils of purple embroidered with gold, and at the further end of the church the gigantic cross-shaped candelabra, hanging from the silver-plated frame-work of the triumphal arch, with its 1,370 candles, lights up the gloom of the December morning. This triumphal arch, which, with the long colonnade leading up to it, was an essential feature of the early Roman basilica, is doubtless adorned with mosaics of saints and martyrs, and spans the entrance to the apsidal tribune, which is the very Holy of Holies of Rome. For here, before and below the high altar, is the confessio or subterranean cave in which the body of St. Peter, rescued from its pagan surroundings, the circus of Nero and the temples of Apollo and Cybele, is believed to repose in the coffin of gilded bronze provided for it by the reverent munificence of the first Christian Emperor. Over the high altar rises a baldacchino supported by four porphyry columns, and by others of white marble twisted into the resemblance of vine-stems. Keeping guard as it were in front of the confessio are many statues of saints and angels. Here, as if in bold defiance of all the edicts of iconoclastic Emperors, Gregory III had reared an iconostasis covered with silver plates, on which are depicted on one side the likenesses of Christ and his Apostles,  p193 on the other those of the Virgin Mary and a train of holy maidens;40 and following in his footsteps Hadrian has placed near the iconostasis six images, made of silver plates covered with gold. At the entrance of the choir stands the image of the Saviour, with the archangels Gabriel and Michael on either side of Him, and behind, in the middle of the choir, is the Virgin Mother, flanked by the Apostles St. Andrew and St. John. All the floor of this part of the basilica is covered with plates of silver. Behind, at the very end of the church, is seen the chair of St. Peter's successor, with seats for the suburbicarian bishops — the cardinal-bishops as they are already beginning to be called — in the curve of the apse on either side of him.

The basilica proper, that is the part within the atrium, measured 320 feet by 226. The best idea of its dimensions will be obtained by comparing it with the existing church of S. Paolo fuori le Mura at Rome, which is 306 feet long by 222 broad. That church also has its four rows of columns, its triumphal arch adorned with mosaics, its confessio with a reputed apostolic tomb surmounted by a baldacchino borne by porphyry columns and guarded by apostolic statues, and behind the triumphal arch it has its round apsidal end. Thus, notwithstanding its own extremely modern date,41 it may both in size and arrangement be considered as the best representative now available of the basilica of St. Peter at the end of the eighth century.

 p194  One thing more we note in passing, that the St. Peter's of Leo III was about a century older than its modern representative, reared by Julius II and Leo X and Paul III, is at the present day.42

Such then was the great and venerable building, encrusted with memories of half a thousand Christian years, in which Charles the Frank knelt on the Christmas morning of the year 800 to pay his devotions at the confessio of St. Peter. Assuredly if he himself was ignorant of what was about to happen, neither the Roman citizens nor the Frankish citizens shared his ignorance. Assuredly there was a hush of expectation throughout the dim basilica, and all eyes were directed towards the kneeling figure in Roman garb at the tomb of the Apostle.

Charles crowned as Emperor of the Romans. Charles rose from his knees. The Pope approached him, and lifting high his hands placed on the head of the giant king a golden crown. Then all the Roman citizens burst into a loud and joyful cry: 'To Carolus Augustus, crowned by God, mighty and pacific Emperor, be life and victory.' Then all joined in the 'Laudes,' a long series of choral invocations to Christ, to angels, to apostles, to martyrs, and to virgins, praying each separately to grant the newly-crowned Emperor heavenly aid to conquer all his foes.43

Thus the great revolution towards which for three generations the stream of events had been steadily setting was accomplished. Once more an Emperor of the Romans had been acclaimed in Rome, the first of  p195 that long line of Teutonic Augusti, the last of whom44 laid down the true Imperial diadem in the lifetime of our fathers at the bidding of the son of a Corsican attorney.

Divergent narratives. Thus far all our authorities are agreed. It is important now to notice the points in which, without contradicting, they nevertheless diverge somewhat from one another.

(1) Papal adoration of the Emperor. (1) The Frankish annalists45 both assure us that after Lauds had been sung, Charles 'was adored by the pontiff after the manner of the ancient princes.' The Papal biographer conveniently omits this fact, which the Roman Curia did not desire to remember, but there is no reason to doubt that it actually occurred, nor that such reverence as the Patriarch of Constantinople would have paid to Justinian or Heraclius, the Bishop of Rome paid to his now acknowledged lord, Carolus Augustus.

(2) Papal unction. (2) Theophanes46 says that the Pope 'anointed Charles with oil from his head to his feet, and arrayed him in a royal robe and crown.' This thorough anointing, which would have required that Charles should have been stripped naked in the sight of the whole assembly, does not agree with any of the other accounts, and is in itself improbable.47 It probably arose from some confusion with the next item of information.

(3) Unction of the younger Charles. (3) The Papal biographer informs us that 'on the  p196 same day' (probably at a later hour) 'the Pope anointed with the holy oil his most excellent son Charles (the younger) as king.' This, though not mentioned by the annalists, is quite intelligible. As his predecessor had anointed Pippin king of Italy and Louis king of Aquitaine, so he now anointed their brother Charles as king, probably king of the Franks, that being a title which was perhaps left open for him by his father's promotion to a higher dignity.

(4) His gifts to the Church. (4) The same biographer mentions the costly gifts which were presented to the shrine of St. Peter by Charles and his family, after the celebration of Mass which followed the coronation. They were 'a silver table with its feet' (whose weight is not stated), 'a golden crown with jewels to hang over the altar, a golden paten, and three large chalices, one of them set with gems.' The mere gold in these vessels weighed 216 pounds, equivalent in value to more than £10,000 sterling.

(5) His alleged unwillingness to be crowned as Emperor. (5) A most important statement, and one that has given rise to almost endless discussion, is that made by Einhard in the Life of Charles: —

'At this time he received the name of Imperator and Augustus. Which he at first so much disliked, that he declared that he would never have entered the church on that day, though it was a high festival, if he could have fore-known the pontiff's design. He bore, however, with great patience the odium that attached to him on account of his new title through the indignation of the Roman Emperors.48 And he vanquished their stubbornness by his own far‑surpassing  p197 magnanimity, sending to them frequent embassies, and in his letters addressing them as brothers.'

I reserve my comments on this important statement for a later paragraph.

The remainder of Charles's visit to Italy may be described in a few words.

Charles's winter in Italy. The winter was occupied in settling the affairs of the State and the Church in the new relations to one another which resulted from the re‑establishment of the Empire. One of the most important of these was that henceforward the consent of the Frankish Emperor was necessary for the consecration of a newly elected Pope.

As Grimwald was still unsubdued, a second expedition was sent under Pippin to reduce him to obedience, but it does not appear to have achieved any decided success. Probably malaria, as well as the Lombard sword, defended the independence of the Samnite duchy.49

On Easter Day (April 4, 801) Charles was again in Rome. Three weeks afterwards he visited Spoleto,  p198 where, in the second hour of night, he witnessed a tremendous earthquake which shook the whole of Italy, and brought down in ruin the roof of S. Paolo fuori at Rome.

Return to Germany. From Spoleto he went to Ravenna, where he spent some of the early days of May; from Ravenna to Pavia, arriving there about the beginning of June. In the old palace of the Lombard kings he received the tidings of the arrival of an embassy from the Caliph Haroun-al‑Raschid. From Pavia he went to Ivrea, and so over the Great St. Bernard to Switzerland, and down the Rhine to his beloved Aquae Grani, where he spent the remainder of the year.

Meaning of the transaction of Dec. 25, 800. Now that Charles has recrossed the Alps and sits once more in his palace at Aachen, no longer now as mere Rex Francorum et Langobardorum and Patricius Romanorum, but as Augustus and Imperator, we may suitably consider what were the causes and what was the significance of the peaceful revolution — for such in fact it was — effected in the basilica of St. Peter on Christmas Day, 800.

Not intentionally a revival of the Western as distinct from the Eastern Empire. It is hardly necessary formally to discuss the theory which prevailed a hundred years ago,50 that there was in this act an intentional revival of the Western Empire which had lain dormant since the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in 476. Doubtless this was something like the practical result of Charles's coronation. After an interval of suspense, uncertainty and mutual suspicion, the two powers of East and West at  p199 last settled down into an attitude, not of partnership, hardly of friendship, but of mutual toleration, and accepted the Adriatic as the dividing line between the two Empires.51 And yet, near two centuries later, a monk of Salerno writing the history of his city, an Italian city, under the influence of strong anti-Frankish feeling, could say, 'The men about the court of Charles the Great called him Emperor, because he wore a precious crown on his head. But in truth no one should be called Emperor save the man who presides over the Roman, that is the Constantino­politan kingdom. The kings of the Gauls have now usurped to themselves that name, but in ancient times they were never so called.'52

The Roman Empire still in theory 'one and indivisible.' In truth the epithet 'one and indivisible' which the French Republic used of itself when threatened by the armies of partitioning invaders, might have been applied to the Roman Empire at any time previous to the ninth century. There were jealousies and heart-burnings (as the readers of this history know right well) between the East and the West, between Arcadius and Honorius, between Leo and Ricimer; and sometimes these quarrels were on the point of bursting into the flame of war. Still the wars thus threatened, like the wars which were actually waged between Constantine and Julian or between Theodosius  p200 and Eugenius, would have been regarded as civil wars. The great earth-encompassing Imperium Romanum remained, at least in theory, one, and no more convincing proof of its unity, of its indestructible feeling of organic and all‑prevailing life, could be given than was afforded by the marvellous reconquest of Italy by the generals of Justinian.

We must then recognise the fact that the Pope when he placed the crown on the head of Charles, and the Roman people when they shouted 'Long life to the most pious Augustus, great and pacific Emperor of the Romans,' were, in theory at least, assailing the throne of Irene, and claiming for the great Austrasian monarch dominion over all the lands, from the Pillars of Hercules to the river Euphrates, over which the Roman eagle had flapped its wings.

Charles was reluctant to give this challenge to the East. This fact, that the assumption of the Imperial title was of necessity a challenge to the court of Constantinople, the only Christian state which could for a moment pretend to rival the Frankish kingdom in wealth and power, was doubtless one reason (as Einhard implicitly assures us)53 for Charles's unwillingness to be hailed as Augustus. For that this unwillingness was a mere pretence, that Charles when he expressed his dissatisfaction with the ceremony was merely copying the Nolo Episcopari of eminent ecclesiastics, seems to me both unproved and improbable. He was not a spiritual ruler, nor expected to utter any phrases of conventional humility. It may be true, it probably  p201 is true, that the subject of the change of his title from Patricius to Imperator had often been discussed in his presence by such men as Alcuin, Angilbert, and Leo himself; and the proposal had probably found a certain degree of acceptance in a mind such as his, which was always inspired by large and lofty ambitions. But he saw, as perhaps Alcuin did not see, the practical inconveniences of a permanent estrangement from the Byzantine court. He may possibly have already entertained the strange project of acquiring the Imperial crown by a matrimonial alliance with Irene. At all events, he wished to choose his own time and way for the great revolution, and saw with dissatisfaction his hand forced by the officiousness of Leo III and the enthusiasm of the Roman people.

We may perhaps be enabled to understand a little better the state of mind of the Frankish hero if we compare his position with that of Julius Caesar when Marcus Antonius at the festival of the Lupercalia offered him a kingly crown, or with that of Cromwell, when after much deliberation and many swayings of his mind backwards and forwards he finally rejected the title of King offered to him by his Parliament. In both of those cases there was much to be said in favour of the proposed change, and there were strong reasons, quite apart from any motive of mere vanity or ambition, why the foremost man in the state should accept the offered title. In both of those cases the great man's adherents — not in mere flattery and courtiership — were more anxious than he himself for the augmentation of his dignity. There also the statesman felt the obstacles, invisible to the less highly trained perceptions of his followers, which made the change a  p202 perilous one. The all‑important difference between those cases and this which we are now considering is that in them the negative arguments prevailed, while with Charles the intervention of the sacro-sanct chief of Western Christendom, dispelled all doubts, ended all hesitation, and by proclaiming the Teutonic Caesar fixed the form of European polity for centuries to come.

The intervention of the Pope not altogether welcome. This very intervention of the Pope was, however, in all probability one of those circumstances of the revolution which made it unacceptable to the new Augustus. If the thing had to be done — and probably he had made up his mind to accept its necessity — he would have wished it done in some other way: by the invitation of his Frankish nobles; by a vote of the shadowy body which called itself the Roman Senate (if such a shadow still haunted the north-western corner of the forum); by the acclamations of the Roman people; or by all these instrumentalities combined, but not by the touch of the pontiff's fingers. He foresaw, probably with statesman-like instinct, the mischief which would accrue to future generations from the precedent of a Pope appearing by virtue of his ecclesiastical office to bestow the Imperial crown.54 And certainly he did what in him lay to destroy the force of the precedent. No bishop of Rome or of any other see presided over the ceremony when in 813 he promoted his son Louis to the Imperial dignity. The mischief, however, was incurable. It became the deep- p203 rooted conviction of the Middle Ages that the Emperor, if he would be an Emperor of unchallenged legitimacy, must receive his crown in Rome from the hands of the successor of St. Peter. And not only so, but the absolutely erroneous idea that the Pope had by virtue of his plenary power over states and kingdoms transferred the Imperial dignity from Constantinople to Rome, was adopted by one canonist and monkish historian after another, till it at length found full and loud expression in the Decretal published by Innocent III in 1201, in which he upheld the cause of Otho of Brunswick as candidate for the Imperial crown against Philip of Swabia. The story of the Translation thus passed into the collection of the Decretals, and as part of the canon law of Europe reigned supreme for three centuries, till at the time of the Revival of Learning this fiction, along with the Donation of Constantine, the Decretals of the false Isidore, and others like itself, came tumbling to the ground.55

Truly it is said by Professor Dahn, 'All the claims which were ever asserted by the greatest Popes against the Emperors, their theory of the Two Swords, the whole conception according to which the Pope as successor of St. Peter, as representative of God upon earth, was entitled to grant or to refuse to grant the Imperial crown as his beneficium to the German king ("Petra dedit Petro, Petrus diadema Rudolfo"); all this theory which makes the king the Pope's vassal in respect of the Imperial crown rests on that one  p204 ceremony in which the first Emperor received the crown from the hand of the Roman Pope.'56

It is reasonable to infer that so far‑seeing a statesman as Charles perceived this cloud on the horizon of the future, and that his perception of it had something to do with that enigmatic saying of his to Einhard, 'Had I known what Leo was about to do, I would never have entered St. Peter's on that Christmas morning.'

Possible difficulties between the future Emperor and the King of Italy. There is also another consideration, scarcely noticed hitherto, which as it seems to me, may have rendered Charles averse to the proposed revolution. He had three sons, Charles, Pippin, Louis. He intended Louis to reign after him in Southern Gaul, Pippin in Italy and Bavaria, while Neustria and Austrasia, the proper home of the Franks, with their old and time-honoured capitals, Metz, Soissons, Paris, and the great Rhine-stream itself, dearest of rivers to Charles's heart, were all to be the portion of his eldest son Charles, likest of all his children to himself, who was undoubtedly to hold the predominant place in the royal partnership. Presumably therefore Charles was to be the future Emperor, but the city from which he was to take his title, the city which as Emperor he was to be pre‑eminently bound to cherish and protect, would be included in the dominions of a brother, perhaps of a rival. Here was a danger, patent and obviously to be apprehended, though in the actual course of events the lamentable death of both the two young princes, Charles and Pippin, prevented its actual occurrence. We have, I think, no hint of the way in which Charles himself proposed to deal with it, but it may well have been one of the elements in the case which rendered  p205 him less eager than Alcuin and Angilbert to hear the joyful acclamations of the Roman people, 'Long life to Carolus Augustus.'

Of the other chief actors in the scene the motives are not so hard to discover. The Frankish nobles and great churchmen doubtless felt their own dignity exalted by becoming the servants of a Roman Emperor. The Roman people seemed to regain the right, lost for nearly four centuries, of conferring by their acclamations the title which gave to its wearer 'the lordship of the habitable world.'57 And as for the Pope himself, may we not consider that if he renounced for the present his dream of establishing himself as the absolutely independent sovereign of central and southern Italy, he saw his advantage in the restoration of a strong Imperial rule which would make such outrages as those perpetrated upon him by Paschalis and Campulus thereafter impossible? And still the consolidation of the Papal States would go forward, though in theory he would have to hold them as a beneficium from the new Augustus. In practice, who could tell, with that magnificent precedent of a Pope-conferred crown, whether the relation might not one day be inverted, and the Pope become, as Boniface VIII claimed to be, lord paramount of the Emperor.


The Author's Notes:

1 His father was called Atzuppius, a strange form of name, which seems to suggest Sclavonic or even Saracen descent. His mother's name was Elizabeth.

2 'Valde, ut fatur,' says Charles in his reply, 'gavisi sumus seu in electionis unanimitate, seu in humilitatis vestrae obedientiâ et in promissionis ad nos fidelitate' (Epist. Carolin. 10, apud Jaffé).

3 'Beate Petre dona bitam [vitam] Leoni P. P. et bictoriam [victoriam] Carulo regi dona.' The present mosaic was executed from a coloured drawing in the Vatican library about 1743, the original having perished in the attempt to remove it from the walls of the Triclinium. Over against this group in the original building was a group of the Saviour enthroned between two kneeling figures giving three keys to St. Peter and a banner to Constantine. Hemans ('Ancient Christianity and Sacred Art,' p438) argues from the square nimbus round the Emperor's head that he must be meant for Constantine, son of Irene, not for the first Christian Emperor, but it seems very improbable that this Constantine could be thus put almost on an equality with St. Peter. See frontispiece to this volume.

4 Simson (II.166 and 315) points out that again in 804 Leo was glad to find a pretext for quitting Rome, as though his life was in danger there, and that in 815, after Charles's death, there was actually another formidable conspiracy of Roman nobles against him (cf. Annales Einhardi, s. a. 804 and 815).

5 Codex Carolinus, Ep. 62.

6 In Ovid's Fasti, IV.901‑942, we have an interesting description of these Robigalia, of the priest's prayer to Rubigo (Rust) to spare the green corn, and in its stead to attack swords and javelins, useless now because Augustus reigns. I follow Duchesne in connecting the Litania Major with the Robigalia, though I do not understand why it is impossible to identify it with the Litania Septiformis of Gregory the Great (see vol. V p299).

7 A little west of the Corso, about 100 yards north of the Piazza Colonna.

8 Now the church of S. Silvestro on the east of the Corso.

9 In Angilbert's poem 'Ad Carolum Regem et Leonem Papam,' already quoted, Charles is represented as seeing the Pope in a dream with his ghastly mutilations, and sending messengers to Rome to enquire of his welfare. This however is probably a 'Homeric' fancy. Angilbert also makes the attack more the result of a sudden outburst of popular fury and less of a deliberate conspiracy than the above description, in which I have followed closely the Liber Pontificalis.

10 'Iterum eum bis oculos et linguam amplius crudeliter eruerunt et plagis eum diversis et fustibus caedentes laniaverunt et semivivum in sanguine revolutum ante ipsum altare dimiserunt' (Lib. Pontificalis, II.5). Döllinger (Das Kaiserthum Karls des Grossen, p332, ed. 1865) rejects this second mutilation as fabulous.

11 Annales Laurissenses say, 'captum excaecaverunt ac linguâ detruncaverunt.' Ann. Einhardi, more cautiously, 'erutis oculis ut aliquibus visum est, linguâ quoque amputatâ.' Ann. Laureshamense, 'et absciderunt linguam ejus et voluerunt eruere oculos ejus et eum morti tradere.' So too Chronicon Moissiacense. Ann. Lauriss. Minores, 'oculos eruere moliuntur, linguam abscidunt.' In all these the mutilation of the tongue is spoken of more confidently than the injury to the eyes. The whole matter is very carefully discussed by Simson, II.583‑7.

12 A certain Maurus (perhaps bishop) of Nepi was also art and part in the conspiracy.

13 'Cubicularius.'

14 Along with the Abbot Wirund (Annales Laurissenses, s. a. 799).

15 The long and flowery description of the meeting of Pope and King given by Angilbert in the poem above quoted (Karolus Magnus et Leo Papa, 426‑536) is too full of conventional phrases borrowed from the classical poets to be of much value for history.

16 Translatio S. Liberii (quoted by Simson, II.183). The church, though unharmed thenceforward by the Saxons, was destroyed by fire in the year 1000.

17 The imperfect philology of that age was fond of deriving Augustus from augeo, to increase.

18 'Sed ut video, meis hoc inpedientibus peccatis, fieri necdum poterit propter fragilitatem corpusculi, multis molestiarum sarcinulis subgravati. Insuper nec ille [Carolus] aliquid mihi exinde mandavit, in cujus potestate juxta seculi dignitatem hoc maxime fieri debuit. Per alios vero mihi firmiter hoc mandavit, ut fieri voluisset: per se autem nihil inde dixit' (Alcuin to Arno, archbishop of Salzburg; Ep. 120).

19 Ep. 114.

20 'Caeteris praefatis dignitatis potentiâ excellentiorem, sapientiâ clariorem, regni dignitate sublimiorem.'

21 See vol. V p100.

22 Cunipert (see doubtful), Bernard (probably of Worms), Hatto (of Freising?), Jesse (of Amiens), Erflaic (or Flaccus, bishop elect; see unknown).

23 Helmgoth, Rottecar, and Germar.

24 According to Duchesne (II.36), the Schola Francorum had their quarters in S. Salvatore (now included in the buildings of the Inquisition). The Schola Frisonum had S. Michele in Borgo or in Sassia. The Schola Langobardorum had the church of St. Justin near S. Michele, now destroyed; and the Schola Saxonum had S. Spirito in Sassia. (It seems to have been called at the time S. Maria in Sassia; and the whole Borgo was called Burgus Saxonum; Dyer's History of Rome, 358.)

Thayer's Note: S. Spirito in Sassia. ADD THE OTHER CHURCHES

25 This is Strauss' suggestion (Beziehungen Karls des Grossen zum griechischen Reiche, p39).

26 'Propter morum insolentiam' (Ann. Einhardi), words perhaps taken from Irene's diplomatic communication.

27 'Haec tamen legatio tantum de pace fuit' (Ann. Laur. s. a. 798).

28 Eric had been preceded by Marcarius (Cod. Car. 65), who may probably have replaced Hrodgaud.

29 Near Fiume in Croatia.

30 Chiefly the fact that in a letter written in 791 (Ep. Carolinae, 6, ed. Jaffé), Charles speaks of the 'dux Histriae' as his vassal.

31 Would that our authorities had informed us whether he spoke in Latin or in the Frankish tongue.

32 The divergence does not seem to me so great as is stated by v. Döllinger (p100); nor are the two accounts really irreconcilable.

33 Leo was probably alluding chiefly to the precedent of the exculpation of Pelagius in the death of Vigilius (see vol. V p53). In the case of Symmachus (III.499º  (450)),º the oath of exculpation does not seem to have been actually taken.

34 So far from the Liber Pontificalis. The oath itself is included in Epistolae Carolinae (ap. Jaffé, p378).

35 The Papal biographer puts this trial after the Emperor's coronation.

36 'Secundum legem Romanam ut majestatis rei capitis damnati sunt' (Ann. Laur. et Einhardi). It is strange that this is not mentioned by the Papal biographer.

37 'Tunc visum est ipso apostolico Leoni et universis sanctis patribus qui in ipso concilio aderant, seu reliquo Christiano populo ut ipsum Carolum . . . imperatorem nominare debuissent' (M. G. H. I.305). These words imply deliberation and discussion.

38 Einhard (Vita Caroli, XXIII) says, 'Nunquam peregrinis indumentis indui patiebatur. Excepto quod Romae semel Hadriano pontifice petente et iterum Leone successore ejus suppliante longâ tunicâ et chlamyde amictus, calceis quoque Romano more formatis utebatur.'

39 Gregory of Tours, Gloria Martyrum, c. 27 (quoted by Duchesne, I.194).

40 Lib. Pontificalis (Vita Gregorii III, 194).

41 The original basilica was almost entirely destroyed by fire in 1823, but was rebuilt on the old lines.

42 From Constantine the Great (320) to Charles the Great (800) = 480 years, from Leo X (1520) to 1900 = 380 years.

43 A specimen of these 'Laudes' is given by Duchesne, II.37.

44 The Emperor Francis II (August 6, 1806).

45 Laurissenses et Einhardi.

46 Anno Mundi 6289 (p399).

47 Döllinger (p134) thinks that it was a fable invented by the Greeks to cast ridicule on the ceremony of the coronation.

48 The Emperors at Constantinople.

49 We hear very little of these Beneventan expeditions in the Frankish Annals, and may therefore fairly conjecture that, if tolerably successful, they were nevertheless not glorious for the Frankish arms. Some light is thrown upon them by the letters of Alcuin. In Ep. 156, he laments that his dear friend Maganfred, Charles's faithful chamberlain, has died in the Beneventan country, and he asks Charles to consider whether an expedition into that land can be pleasing to God or profitable to Christian people. In Ep. 165, addressed to Count Chrodgar (April, 801), he repeats and explains his warning: 'I hear that you are going to ravage the Beneventan country. You know well what danger hangs over you on account of the pestilential air of that land. Therefore take care what you are doing, lest you be accused of negligence if the expedition should end in failure.'

50 Even Gibbon is not quite clear on this point. In his text he uses language which is historically correct, but the marginal note (for which presumably he is responsible) runs, 'Coronation of Charlemagne as Emperor of Rome and the West.'

51 This is only approximately true. The details of the division which allotted Venice to the Eastern and Croatia to the Western Empire will be given in a later chapter.

52 'Imperator quippe omnimodis non dici potest, nisi qui regnum Romanum praeest, hoc est Constantino­politanum. Reges Gallorum nunc usurparunt sibi talem (sic) nomen, nam antiquitus omnimodis sic non vocitati sunt' (Chronicon Salernitanum, cap. 11).

53 Immediately after the sentence in which he describes Charles's reluctance to be crowned as Emperor, Einhard adds, 'Invidiam tamen suscepti nominis, Romanis imperatoribus super hoc indignantibus, magnâ tulit patientiâ.'

54 This is the view strongly advocated by Prof. Dahn (Deutsche Geschichte, I.2.359; Urgeschichte, III.1080). His arguments are very forcible, and I am convinced by them, but not to the extent of thinking this the sole reason for Charles's dissatisfaction.

55 The history of the growth of this error is elaborately traced by von Döllinger in his article on 'Das Kaiserthum Karls des Grossen und seiner Nachfolger' (Akademische Verträge, III.143‑174).

56 Dahn's 'Bausteine,' II.395‑6.

57 Ἡ τῶν ὅλων ἀρχή (Zosimus, passim.)


Thayer's Note:

a The church of S. Erasmo sul Celio was already reduced to ruins by the end of the 16c. Of those ruins nothing now remains. Hülsen, Le Chiese di Roma nel Medio Evo (1927), p249; and in much greater detail if less careful, Armellini, Le chiese di Roma dal secolo IV al XIX, 2nd ed., p122 ff.


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