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XLIX.

along the Adriatic from Rimini to Ancona, and advanced CHAP. into the midland country as far as the ridges of the Apennine. In this transaction, the ambition and avarice of the popes had been severely condemned. Perhaps the humility of a Christian priest should have rejected an earthly kingdom, which it was not easy for him to govern without renouncing the virtues of his profession. Perhaps a faithful subject, or even a generous enemy, would have been less impatient to divide the spoils of the Barbarian; and if the emperor had intrusted Stephen to solicit in his name the restitution of the Exarchate, I will not absolve the pope from the reproach of treachery and falsehood. But in the rigid interpretation of the laws, every one may accept, without injury, whatever his benefactor can bestow without injustice. The Greek emperor had abdicated or forfeited his right to the Exarchate; and the sword of Astolphus was broken by the stronger sword of the Carlovingian. It was not in the cause of the Iconoclast that Pepin had exposed his person and army in a double expedition beyond the Alps: he possessed, and might lawfully alienate, his conquests; and to the importunities of the Greeks, he piously replied, that no human consideration should tempt him to resume the gift which he had conferred on the Roman pontiff for the remission of his sins and the salvation of his soul. The splendid donation was granted in supreme and absolute dominion, and the world beheld for the first time a Christian bishop invested with the prerogatives of a temporal prince; the choice of magistrates, the exercise of justice, the imposition of taxes, and the wealth of the palace of Ravenna. In the dissolution of the Lombard kingdom, the inhabitants of the dutchy of Spoleto64 sought a refuge from the storm, shaved their heads after the Roman fashion, declared themselves the servants and subjects of St. Peter, and completed, by this voluntary surrender, the present circle of the ecclesiastical state. That mysterious circle was enlarged to an in. definite extent, by the verbal or written donation of Charlemagne,es who, in the first transports of his victory, despoiled

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64 Spoletini depricati sunt, ut eos in servitio B. Petri reciperet et more Ro. manorum tonsurari faceret (Anastasius, p. 185). Yet it may be a question whether they gave their own persons or their country.

65 The policy and donations of Charlemagne are carefully examined by St. Marc (Abregé, tom. i. p. 390...408), who has well studied the Codex Ca

CHAP. himself and the Greek emperor of the cities and islands XLIX.

which had formerly been annexed to the Exarchate. But, in the cooler moments of absence and reflection, he viewed, with an eye of jealousy and envy, the recent greatness of his ecclesiastical ally. The execution of his own and his father's promises was respectfully eluded: the king of the Franks and Lombards asserted the inalienable rights of the empire; and, in his life and death, Ravenna, 66 as well as Rome, was numbered in the list of his metropolitan cities. The sovereignty of the Exarchate melted away in the hands of the popes: they found in the archbishops of Ravenna a dangerous and domestic rival:67 the nobles and people disdained the yoke of a priest; and, in the disorders of the times, they could only retain the memory of an ancient claim, which, in a more prosperous age, they have revived and re

alized. Forgery of Fraud is the resource of weakness and cunning; and the the dona

strong, though ignorant, Barbarian, was often entangled in Constan- the net of sacerdotal policy. The Vatican and Lateran were

an arsenal and manufacture, which, according to the occasion, have produced or concealed a various collection of false or genuine, of corrupt or suspicious, acts, as they tended to promote the interest of the Roman church. Before the end of the eighth century, some apostolical scribe, perhaps the notorious Isidore, composed the decretals, and the donation of Constantine, the two magic pillars of the spiritual and temporal monarchy of the popes. This memorable donation was introduced to the world by an epistle of Adrian the first, who exhorts Charlemagne to imitate the liberality,

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rolinus. I believe, with him, that they were only verbal. The most ancient act of donation that pretends to be extant, is that of the emperor Lewis the Pious (Sigonius, de Regno Italiæ, 1. iv. Opera, tom.ii.p. 267...270. Its authenticity, or at least its integrity, are much questioned (Pagi, A. D. 817, No. 7, &c. Muratori, Annali, tom. vi. p. 432, &c. Dissertat. Chorographica, p. 33, 34); but I see no reasonable objection to these princes so freely disposing of what was not their own.

66 Charlemagne solicited and obtained from the proprietor, Hadrian I. the mosaics of the palace of Ravenna, for the decoration of Aix-la-Chapelle (Cod. Carolin. epist. 67. p. 223).

67 The popes often complain of the usurpations of Leo of Ravenna (Codex Carolin. epist. 51, 52, 53. p. 200...205). Si corpus St. Andrere fratris ger. mani St. Petri hîc humasset, nequaquain nos Romani pontifices sic subjugas. sent (Agnellus, Liber Pontificalis, in Scriptores Rerum Ital. tom. ii. pars i, p. 107).

and revive the name, of the great Constantine.68 Accord- CHAP. ing to the legend, the first of the Christian emperors was

XLIX. healed of the leprosy, and purified in the waters of baptism, by St. Silvester, the Roman bishop; and never was physician more gloriously recompensed. His royal proselyte withdrew from the seat and patrimony of St. Peter; declared his resolution of founding a new capital in the East; and resigned to the popes the free and perpetual sovereignty of Rome, Italy, and the provinces of the West. This fiction was productive of the most beneficial effects. The Greek princes were convicted of the guilt of usurpation; and the revolt of Gregory was the claim of his lawful inheritance. The popes were delivered from their debt of gratitude; and the nominal gifts of the Carlovingians were no more than the just and irrevocable restitution of a scanty portion of the ecclesiastical state. The sovereignty of Rome no longer depended on the choice of a fickle people; and the successors of St. Peter and Constantine were invested with the purple and prerogatives of the Cæsars. So deep was the ignorance and credulity of the times, that the most absurd of fables was received, with equal reverence, in Greece and in France, and is still enrolled among the decrees of the ca. non law.70 The emperors, and the Romans, were incapable of discerning a forgery, that subverted their rights and freedom; and the only opposition proceeded from a Sabine monastery, which, in the beginning of the twelfth century, disputed the truth and validity of the donation of Constantine." In the revival of letters and liberty, this fictitious

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68 Piissimo Constantino magno, per ejus largitatem S. R. Ecclesia elevata et exaltata est, et potestatem in his Hesperiæ partibus largiri dignatus est . Quia ecce novus Constantinus his temporibus, &c. (Codex Carolin. epist. 49. in tom. in. part. ii. p. 195). Pagi (Critica, A. D. 324, No. 16.) ascribes them to an impostor of the eighth century, wito borrowed the name of St. Isidore : his humble title of Peccaror was ignorantly, but aptly, turned into Mercator ; his merchandise was indeed profitable, and a few sheets of paper were sold for much wealth and power.

69 Fabricius (Bibliot. Græc. tom. vi p. 4...7.) has enumerated the several editions of this Act, in Greek and Latin. The copy which Laurentius Valla recites and refutes, appears to be taken either from the spurious Acts of St. Silvester or from Gratian's Decree, to which, according to him and others, it has been surreptitiously tacked.

70 In the year 1059, it was believed (was it believed ?) by pope Leo IX. cardinal Peter Damianus, &c. Muratori places (Annali d'Italia, tom. ix. p. 23, 24.) the fictitious donations of Lewis the Pious, the Othos, &c. de Dona. tione Constantini. See a Dissertation of Natalis Alexander, seculum iv. diss. 25.p. 335...350.

7i See a large account of the controversy (A. D. 1105), which arose from

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CHAP. deed was transpierced by the pen of Laurentius Valla, the XLIX.

pen of an eloquent critic and a Roman patriot.72 His contemporaries of the fifteenth century were astonished at his sacrilegious boldness; yet such is the silent and irresistible progress of reason, that before the end of the next age, the fable was rejected by the contempt of historians73 and poets,?* and the tacit or modest censure of the advocates of the Roman church.75 The popes themselves have indulged a smile at the credulity of the vulgar;76 but a false and obsolete title still sanctifies their reign; and, by the same fortune which has attended the decretals and the Sibylline oracles, the edifice has subsisted after the foundations have been under

mined. Restora- While the popes established in Italy their freedom and tion of images in

dominion, the images, the first cause of their revolt, were the East restored in the Eastern empire." Under the reign of Conby the emn. press Irene,

a private law-suit, in the Chronicon Farsense (Script. Rerum Italicarum, tom. ii. pars ii. p. 637, &c.), a copious extract from the archives of that Benedic. tine abbey. They were formerly accessible to curious foreigners (Le Blanc and Mabillion), and would have enriched the first volume of the Historia Mo. nestica Italia of Quirini. But they are now imprisoned (Muratori, Scriptores R. I. tom. ii. pars. ii. p. 269.) by the timid policy of the court of Rome; and the future cardinal yielded to the voice of au: hority and the whispers of ambi. tion (Quirini, Comment. pars ii. p. 123...136).

72 I have read in the collection of Schardius (ile Potestate Imperiali Eccle. siasticâ, p. 734...780), this animated discourse, which was composed by the author, A. D. 1440, six years after the flight of pope Eugenius IV. It is a most vehement party pamphlet: Valla justifies and animates the revolt of the Romans, and would even approve the use of a dagger against their sacerdotal tyrant. Such a critic might expect the persecution of the clergy; yet he made his peace, and is buried in the Lateran (Bayle, Dictionaire Critique, Valla; Vossius, de Historicis Latinis, p. 580).

73 See Guicciardini, a servant of ihe popes, in that long and valuable di. gression, which has resumed its place in the last edition, correctly published from the auihor's MS. and printed in four volumes in quarto, under the name of Friburgo, 1775 (Istoria d'Italia, tom.i.p. 385...395).

74 The Paladin Astolpho found it in the moon, among the things that were lost upon earth (Orlando Furioso, xxxiv. 80).

Di vari fiore ad un grand monte passa,
Ch’ebbe già buono odore, or puzza forte
Questo era il dono (se però dir lece)

Che Constantino al buon Silvestro fece.
Yet this incomparable poem has been approved by a bull of Leo X.

75 See Baronius, A. D. 324, No. 117...123. A. D. 1191, No. 51, &c. The cardinal wishes to suppose that Rome was offered Constantine, and refused by Silvester. The act of donation he considers, strangly enough, as a forgery of the Greeks.

76 Baronius n'en dit gueres contre ; encore en a-t'il trop dit, et l'on vouloit sans moi (Cardinal du Perron ), qui l'empechai, censurer cette partie de son tuistoire. J'en devisai un jour avec le Pape, et il ne me repondit autre chose “che volete? i Canonici la lengono,” il le disoit en riant (Perroniana, p. 77).

77 The remaining history of images, from Irene to Theodora, is collecied, for the Catholics, by Baronius and Pagi (A. D. 780...840), Natalis Alexan

stantine the fifth, the union of civil and ecclesiastical power CHAP. had overthrown the tree, without extirpating the root, of

XLIX. superstition. The idols, for such they were now held, were

A. D. 780, secretly cherished by the order and the sex most prone to &c. devotion; and the fond alliance of the monks and females, obtained a final victory over the reason and authority of man. Leo the fourth maintained with less rigour the religion of his father and grandfather; but his wife, the fair and ambitious Irene, had imbibed the zeal of the Athenians, the heirs of the idolatry, rather than the philosophy, of their ancestors. During the life of her husband, these sentiments were inflamed by danger and dissimulation, and she could only labour to protect and promote some favourite monks whom she drew from their caverns, and seated on the mes tropolitan thrones of the East. But as soon as she reigned in her own name and that of her son, Irene more seriously undertook the ruin of the Iconoclasts; and the first step of her future persecution, was a general edict for liberty of conscience. In the restoration of the monks, a thousand ima. ges were exposed to the public veneration; a thousand le. gends were invented of their sufferings and miracles. By the opportunities of death or removal, the episcopal seats were judiciously filled; the most eager competitors for earthly or celestial favour, anticipated and flattered the judgment of their sovereign; and the promotion of her secretary Tarasius, gave Irene the patriarch of Constantinople, and the command of the Oriental church. But the des crees of a general council could only be repealed by a similar assembly ;78 the Iconoclasts whom she convened, were bold in possession, and averse to debate ; and the feeble voice of the bishops was re-echoed by the more formidable clamour of the soldiers and people of Constantinople. The

der (Hist. N. T. seculum viii. Panoplia adversus Hæreticos, p. 118...178), and Dupin (Bibliot. Eccles. tom. vi. p. 136...154); for the Protestants, by Spanheim (Hist. Imag. p. 305...639), Basnage (Hist. de l'Eglise, tom.i.p. 556 ...572. tom. ii. p. 1362...1385), and Mosheim (Institut. Hist. Eccles. secul. viii. et ix). The protestants, except Mosheim, are soured with controversy ; but the Catholics except Dupin, are inflamed by the fury and superstition of the monks; and even le Beau (Hist. du Bas Empire), a gentleman and a scholar, infected by the odious contagion.

78 See the Acts, in Greek and Latin, of the second Council of Nice with a number of relative pieces, in the virith volume of the Councils, p. 645...1600. A faithful version, with some critical notes, would provoke, in different readers, a sigh or a smile. VOL. VI.

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