Posted by: ken98 | October 7, 2011

Hating Fake Donations, Hating Image-Hating, and Hating Women and Monks

Day 756 – Ken here (F)(10-7-2011)
(DEF III, v.5, Ch.49, pp.110-120)(pages read: 2150)

Continuing on with the Grab-Bag chapter 49 – we look at the Donations of Constantine (fake), and Pepin (real) – which is how, at one time in Central Italy, your landlord COULD be your Pope, all at the same time. We also see the end of Hating-Image-Hating or the end of Iconoclasm. And we get to see (as usual) a lot of Gibbonian soul being bared to 21st cent. eyes.

The Story
Charlemagne and Rome – Patricians of Rome (720->)
  • Gibbon says Byz governors called Exarchs and Patricians
  • After break with Constantinople (Revolt of Italy, Loss of Exarchate 720’s), title Patrician of Rome given to Charles Martel (early,mid 700’s) and French royal successors
  • In Charles Martel’s time and later, Patrician=ally of Rome, protector against the Lombards, etc
  • IN Charlemagne’s time, after Lombard kingdom taken by French, Patrician=coiner of money, giver of justice, ie the sovereign of Rome and the Romagne

    Donations of Pepin & Charlemagne to the Papacy
  • Astolphus (Aistulf) (Lombard) takes the imperial areas of Italy – from the Ducatus Romagna – the (Imperial) Duke of Rome, but Pepin forces him to give it back the narrow strip to the Pope directly – this is the beginning of the TEMPORAL DOMINION OF THE PAPACY – the “Papal States”
  • Later, the Donation of Constantine (giving the Pope’s ALL OF THE WESTERN EMPIRE) was forged to give more ooommph to the Pope’s claim to earthly lordship over the old imperial DUKE or Rome’s lands
  • Gibbon makes the point that often the (arch)bishops of Ravenna (ex. Leo of Ravenna in the 770’s gave the Pope trouble – taking away from the Pope’s earthly authority over lands up there)

    Restoration of Image-worship by Irene and later (780->)
  • Gibbon runs through the endless back and forth of the controversy in the East over official imperial worship of icons, or their official destruction
  • Council of Constantinople (754) made image-worship HERESY
  • Monks (esp of the Studite monastery, powerful in Constantinople) work/riot continuously to get image-worship back – IRENE wants image-worship back=supporter of the monks
  • Irene promotes her secr Tarasius to Patriarch of Constantinople
  • Later, 7th General Council of the Church (Nice) (787) – brings back image-worship
  • The next 5 (or 6) succeeding reigns (38 years) are a seesaw of political back and forth on the legitimacy/legality of image-worship in the East
  • 1) Nicephorus allowed “freedom of conscience” – no opinion – hated by the image-worship monks
  • 2) Michael I Rangabe, brings back images
  • 3) Leo V Armenian (Asia Minor and so rabid anti-image) makes images illegal again
  • 4) Michael II, goes back and forth, but tends towards anti-images – attempts mediation between the 2 parties, for and against
  • 5) Theophilus – persecutor of image-worship
  • 6) his widow Theodora brings back images (this time for good as it turned out)


    Mural 1000 years after the fact of The Donation of Pepin to Pope Stephen II

    Mural 1000 years after the fact of The Donation of Pepin to Pope Stephen II - this was the real donation, the donation BACK of the imperial territories wrested from Constantinople by the Lombards from the Empire, and given back by the French (after conquering the conquering Lombards) , not to the Eastern Romans, but to the Bishops of Rome - they got the Ducatus Romae - the lands under the former military Duke of Rome


    How the Popes Became Princes – the Donations of Pepin, Charlemagne and Constantine


    Beginning with our reading today (the late 740’s and the Lombard king Aistulf’s defeat at the hands of the French king Pepin – when Pepin gave some of the former imperial Byzantine Ducatus of Rome directly to the Pope – Bishop of Rome – to administer) until the final Reunification push into the Papal territories with the fall of the French empeoror Napoleon III (September 20, 1870) (see Italian Reunification) – the Pope’s had temporal (ie real political) power over territories of Italy for over 1100 years.

    This came in 2 waves initially, ie 2 acts/documents: The Donation of Constantine (a papal fake), and the Donations of Pepin, Charlemagne (actual basis of papal territories).

    As the ultimate lord of political units physically on the Italian peninsula, and as the ultimate lord of all Christians, this temporal power of the popes had proved to be a huge problem for a millenium – something they could neither get convince themselves to get rid of, nor something they could honorably hold on to. The Reformation and Protestants in general had a field day with it. Gibbon (writing 60 years before Italian Reunification really started to gain momentum during the Revolutions of 1848,and 90 years before the Papacy had to give up all its territories to the fledgling Kingdom of Italy) of course drips scorn and contempt when describing the Bishop of Rome’s newly inherited temporal powers. But then again, he was a “recovering Catholic” his whole life, and “hell hath no fury like“, well, in this case, a youthful-converted-Protestant-who-converts-back-out-of-Catholicism-into-Protestantism-again-at-the-strong-insistence-of-his-rich-father.

    Remember, that all this hullaballoo about temporal power didn’t amount to a hill of beans in Late Antiquity – bishops already HAD CONTROL over COURTS, often took care of FEEDING THE POOR, RANSOMING the ENSLAVED, RUNNING THE CITY (hospitals, police, sanitation, etc) THROUGHOUT THE EMPIRE – and had been doing it for the last 350 years ever since Constantine. As the cities decayed, and the rich Decurions (leading citizens, great men of the cities) disappeared, the normal government of the cities had devolved upon the empire. As the empire decayed, the empire gave these responsibilities up to the Christian bishops – who were extremely rich, often the leading citizens, often drawn form the very same class of local “disappeared Decurions” and, the nice thing about the church was, as a corporate entity, it just went on and on.

    So in these times of rape and pillage (Lombard Dukes ravaging Italy) the bishops of Rome (and of other cities) were ALREADY DOING SOME OF THE DUTIES of a lord, this was just an instance of making it

    Of course, long after regular citizens, dukes, kings, etc took BACK the civic duties of an earthly ruler into their own hands, the bishops of Rome kept their mid-Italian belt of territories to themselves – scheming, fighting, killing and generally causing a scandal as the titular vicars of Christ on Earth AND remorseless landlords also.

    But here’s how it all fell out in the 700’s:

    Fresco of the Donation of Constantine

    This is the scene that never happened, but it is the one that captured everyone's imagination - scene from the fresco cycle of the Basilica of the Quattro Santi Coronati, Rome - the Donation of Constantine, 13th century.

    1. Donation of Constantine (a Fake)

    This from Wiki:

    The text and its content

    Inserted among the twelfth-century compilation known as the Decretum Gratiani, the document is included among the texts of the False Decretals of Isidore, although it is commonly held not to be one of Isidore’s own forgeries.

    Purportedly issued by the fourth century Roman Emperor Constantine I, the Donation grants Pope Sylvester I and his successors, as inheritors of St. Peter, dominion over lands in Judea, Greece, Asia, Thrace, and Africa as well as the city of Rome with Italy and the entire Western Roman Empire, while Constantine would retain imperial authority in the Eastern Roman Empire from his new imperial capital of Constantinople. The text claims that the Donation was Constantine’s gift to Sylvester for instructing him in the Christian faith, baptizing him, and miraculously curing him of leprosy.

    Medieval use and reception

    The earliest possible allusion to the Donatio is in a letter in which Pope Hadrian I exhorts Charlemagne to follow Constantine’s example and endow the Roman church. It was clearly a defense of papal interests, perhaps against the claims of either the Byzantine Empire or those of Charlemagne himself, who soon assumed the former imperial dignity in the West and with it the title “Emperor of the Romans”.

    In 1054 Pope Leo IX sent a letter to Michael Cærularius, Patriarch of Constantinople, that cited a large portion of the Donation of Constantine, believing it genuine.[3] The official status of this letter is acknowledged in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 5, entry on Donation of Constantine, page 120:
    “The first pope who used it in an official act and relied upon it was Leo IX; in a letter of 1054 to Michael Cærularius, Patriarch of Constantinople, he cites the “Donatio” to show that the Holy See possessed both an earthly and a heavenly imperium, the royal priesthood.”

    Leo IX assured the Patriarch that the donation was completely genuine, not a fable or old wives’ tale, so only the apostolic successor to Peter possessed that primacy and was the rightful head of all the Church. The Patriarch rejected the claims of papal primacy, and subsequently the Catholic Church was split in two in the Great East-West Schism of 1054.

    The poet Dante Alighieri held the Donation to be the root of papal worldliness in his Divine Comedy.

    ( from Donation of Constantine, WIKI)

    2. Donations of Pepin, Charlemagne (Actual Sources of Power)

    The “Donation of Pepin”, the first in 754, and second in 756, provided a legal basis for the formal organizing of the Papal States, which inaugurated papal temporal rule over civil authorities. The Donations were bestowed by Pepin the Short only three years after he became the first civil ruler appointed by a Pope, about the year 751.

    In 753, the Lombards under their king Aistulf (also known as Astolfo) had conquered the Exarchate of Ravenna, the main seat of Byzantine government in Italy, whose Patriarch held territorial power as the representative of the Eastern Roman emperor, independent of the Pope of Rome. The Lombard Duke of Spoleto and the Lombard kings posed a threat to Roman territory, and Aistulf demanded tribute from Pope Zachary, an able diplomat.

    After Zachary died in March 752, and after the death of his successor Pope-elect Stephen a mere three days after his own election in March 752, the eventual successor, Pope Stephen II, went to meet Pepin the Short (who had been crowned at Soissons with Zachary’s blessing) at Quiercy-sur-Loire in 753, marking the first time a Pope had crossed the Alps. The Pope was first met by Pepin’s eleven-year-old son, Charles who conveyed him to his father in Ponthion. At Quiercy the Frankish nobles finally gave their consent to a campaign in Lombardy. Roman Catholic tradition asserts that it was then and there that Pepin executed in writing a promise to convey to the Papacy certain territories that were going to be wrested from the Lombards. No actual document has been preserved, but later 8th century sources quote from it.

    On July 28, 754 Pope Stephen anointed Pepin, as well as his two sons Charles and Carloman, at Saint-Denis in a memorable ceremony that was recalled in coronation rites of French kings until the end of the ancien regime in the French Revolution of 1789-1799.
    In return, in 756, Pepin and his Frankish army forced the last Lombard king to surrender his conquests, and Pepin officially conferred upon the pope the territories belonging to Ravenna, even cities such as Forlì with their hinterlands, laying the Donation of Pepin upon the tomb of Saint Peter, according to traditional later accounts.

    The gift included Lombard conquests in the Romagna and in the Duchy of Spoleto and Benevento, and the Pentapolis in the Marche (the “five cities” of Rimini, Pesaro, Fano, Senigallia and Ancona). The Donations allowed the Pope to reign for the first time as a temporal ruler. This strip of territory extended diagonally across Italy from the Tyrrhenian to the Adriatic. Over these extensive and mountainous territories the medieval Popes were unable to exercise effective sovereignty, given the pressures of the times, and the new Papal States preserved the old Lombard heritage of many small counties and marquisates, each centered upon a fortified rocca.

    Pepin confirmed his Donations in Rome in 756, and in 774 his son Charlemagne again confirmed and reasserted the Donation.

    (from Donation of Pepin WIKI)


    Last Word…


    Empress Irene - of Athens - a woman Gibbon loved to hate

    Empress Irene - of Athens - a woman Gibbon loved to hate - image from Pala d'Oro 10th century, Venice

    Quotable Gibbon


    Image-Worship, It’s All Due to Those Darned Monks and Women

    Gibbons ongoing crusade against monks and women – (there should be a word for this, properly Gibbonian like Misomonachokaigynism – hatred monks and women-ism) – anyways…

    In a barbed aside, Gibbon casually drops to his knees, fires two quick volleys at his two favorite targets (monks, women) for no apparent reason (at least that I can see, other than pure venom and rhetorical effect), and thunderously sallies forth from his historical castle bearing the banners of “The Male Sex” and “Protestant” proudly before him as he does battle in the ancient fields of Eastern Roman Spirituality. Or something like that. I’ll let you decide. It does make for (as Winston Churchill said, and I freely paraphrase) a grand, marvelous read.

    You know, the more I read of Gibbon, I wonder, how did he FARE in all those fabulous Late 18th cent. SALONS gathered around famous, intelligent WOMEN of the day, seeking civilized conversation? With such (low) opinions of his hostesses? He couldn’t have been very popular. And perhaps, he wasn’t, thus the comments.

    Gibbon on the empress Irene and the monks (both of whom liked image-worship) and their eventual victory in the Eastern Empire:

    While the popes established in Italy their freedom and dominion, the images, the first cause of their revolt, were restored in the Eastern empire. Under the reign of Constantine the Fifth, the union of civil and ecclesiastical power had overthrown the tree, without extirpating the root, of superstition.

    The idols (for such they were now held) were secretly cherished by the order and the sex most prone to 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 labor to protect and promote some favourite monks whom she drew from their caverns, and seated on the metropolitan thrones of the East.

    (DEF III, vol.5, ch.49, p.117)

    More Gibbon below….

    Gibbon (Quoting the Recorded Acts of the 7th General Council of the Church in Nicea (787)) Gives Yet Another Example of Why One Ought to Despise Monks And All Their Works

    Gibbon has nothing but scorn and despair when reviewing the “holy” reasoning of the bishops of the 7th General Council. I imagine it would be shocking to encourage a monk to visit a brothel, but somehow this says more (to me) about Gibbon than it does about the abbot and the monk. Obviously men in the 700’s had MUCH LESS or possibly DIFFERENT views placed upon certain sexual behavior than does Gibbon in the 1780’s. But here it is (Gibbon quoting the Acta quoting an abbot giving advice):

    Demon of Fornication Better Than Demon of Not-Worship-Images

    No more than eighteen days were allowed for the consummation of this important work: the Iconoclasts appeared, not as judges, but as criminals or penitents: the scene was decorated by the legates of Pope Adrian and the Eastern patriarchs, (79) the decrees were framed by the president Taracius, and ratified by the acclamations and subscriptions of three hundred and fifty bishops.

    They unanimously pronounced, that the worship of images is agreeable to Scripture and reason, to the fathers and councils of the church: but they hesitate whether that worship be relative or direct; whether the Godhead, and the figure of Christ, be entitled to the same mode of adoration.

    Of this second Nicene council the acts are still extant; a curious monument of superstition and ignorance, of falsehood and folly. I shall only notice the judgment of the bishops on the comparative merit of image-worship and morality. A monk had concluded a truce with the daemon of fornication, on condition of interrupting his daily prayers to a picture that hung in his cell. His scruples prompted him to consult the abbot. “Rather than abstain from adoring Christ and his Mother in their holy images, it would be better for you,” replied the casuist, “to enter every brothel, and visit every prostitute, in the city.”

    (DEF III, vol.5, ch.49, p.118)

    and, finally,

    A Little Anti-Catholicism Never Hurt Anyone

    An angry book of controversy was composed and published in the name of Charlemagne: under his authority a synod of three hundred bishops was assembled at Frankfort: (83) they blamed the fury of the Iconoclasts, but they pronounced a more severe censure against the superstition of the Greeks, and the decrees of their pretended council, which was long despised by the Barbarians of the West.

    Among them the worship of images advanced with a silent and insensible progress; but a large atonement is made for their hesitation and delay, by the gross idolatry of the ages which precede the reformation, and of the countries, both in Europe and America, which are still immersed in the gloom of superstition.

    (DEF III, vol.5, ch.49, p.120)

    Mustang Ranch, brothel

    Mustang Ranch, a Nevada landmark - Gibbon is shocked that in a transcript of the Acts of the 7th General Church Council at Nice (a rabidly pro-image-worship gathering) , an abbot of a monk proposed that the monk would sin more visiting prostitutes than he would in NEGLECTING to worship icons of the Virgin and Christ

    Shady Lady Ranch - male brothel in Central Nevada - sorry I just couldn't resist adding this

    Shady Lady Ranch - male brothel in Central Nevada - sorry I just couldn't resist adding this (I've driven by it and never known it was filled with naked MEN not WOMEN, well, I guess both) to the prostitute-versus-image-worship discussion - the fact that abbots spoke about prostitutes and icon-worship in the same breath AND recorded it for all time in the Acts of a General Church Council show that we are looking at a different culture when we look at the 700's

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