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Career of Charlemagne, by Guizot, Francois P. G.

Life of Charlemagne

World History Center

Holy Roman Empire, The
Book: Chapter VII: Theory Of The Mediaeval Empire.
Author: Bryce, James
Date: 1901

Page Eight and Nine

Part I.

These were the events and circumstances of the time: let us now look at
the causes. The restoration of the Empire by Charles may seem to be
sufficiently accounted for by the width of his conquests, by the peculiar
connection which already subsisted between him and the Roman Church, by his
commanding personal character, by the temporary vacancy of the Byzantine
throne. The causes of its revival under Otto must be sought deeper. Making
every allowance for the favouring incidents which have already been dwelt
upon, there must have been some further influence at work to draw him and his
successors, Saxon and Frankish kings, so far from home in pursuit of a barren
crown, to lead the Italians to accept the dominion of a stranger and a
barbarian, to make the Empire itself appear through the whole Middle Age not
what it seems now, a gorgeous anachronism, but an institution divine and
necessary, having its foundations in the very nature and order of things. The
empire of the elder Rome had been splendid in its life, yet its judgment was
written in the misery to which it had brought the provinces, and the
helplessness that had invited the attacks of the barbarian. Now, as we at
least can see, it had long been dead, and the course of events was adverse to
its revival. Its actual representatives, the Roman people, were a turbulent
rabble, sunk in a profligacy notorious even in that guilty age. Yet not the
less for all this did men cling to the idea, and strive through long ages to
stem the irresistible time-current, fondly believing that they were breasting
it even while it was sweeping them ever faster and faster away from the old
order into a region of new thoughts, new feelings, new forms of life. Not
till the days of the Reformation was the illusion dispelled.

The explanation is to be found in the state of the human mind during
these centuries. The Middle Ages were essentially unpolitical. Ideas as
familiar to the commonwealths of antiquity as to ourselves, ideas of the
common good as the object of the State, of the rights of the people, of the
comparative merits of different forms of government, were to them, though
sometimes carried out in fact, in their speculative form unknown, perhaps
incomprehensible. Feudalism was the one great institution to which those
times gave birth, and feudalism was a social and a legal system, only
indirectly and by consequence a political one. Yet the human mind, so far
from being idle, was in certain directions never more active; nor was it
possible for it to remain without general conceptions regarding the relation
of men to each other in this world. Such conceptions were neither made an
expression of the actual present condition of things nor drawn from an
induction of the past; they were partly inherited from the system that had
preceded, partly evolved from the principles of that metaphysical theology
which was ripening into scholasticism ^1. Now the two great ideas which
expiring antiquity bequeathed to the ages that followed were those of a
World-Monarchy and a World-Religion.

[Footnote 1: I do not mean to say that the system of ideas which it is
endeavoured to set forth in the following pages was complete in this
particular form, either in the days of Charles, or those of Otto, or those of
Frederick Barbarossa. It seems to have been constantly growing and decaying
from the fourth century to the sixteenth, the relative prominence of its
cardinal doctrines varying from age to age. But, just as the painter who sees
the ever-shifting lights and shades play over the face of a wide landscape
faster than his brush can place them on the canvas, in despair at representing
their exact position at any single moment, contents himself with painting the
effects that are broadest and most permanent, and at giving rather the
impression which the scene makes on him than every detail of the scene itself,
so here the best and indeed the only practicable course seems to be that of
setting forth in its most self-consistent form the body of ideas and beliefs
on which the Empire rested, although this form may not be exactly that which
they can be asserted to have worn in any one century, and although the
illustrations adduced may have to be taken sometimes from earlier, sometimes
from later writers. As the doctrine of the Empire was in its essence the same
during the whole Middle Age, such a general description as is attempted here
may, I venture to hope, be found substantially true for the tenth as well as
for the fourteenth century.]

Before the conquests of Rome, men, with little knowledge of each other,
with no experience of wide political union ^1, had held differences of race to
be natural and irremovable barriers. Similarly, religion appeared to them a
matter purely local and national; and as there were gods of the hills and gods
of the valleys, of the land and of the sea, so each tribe rejoiced in its
peculiar deities, looking on the natives of another country who worshipped
other gods as Gentiles, natural foes, unclean beings. Such feelings, if
keenest in the East, frequently shew themselves in the early records of Greece
and Italy: in Homer the hero who wanders over the unfruitful sea glories in
sacking the cities of the stranger ^2; the primitive Latins have the same word
for a foreigner and an enemy: the exclusive systems of Egypt, Hindostan,
China, are only more vehement expressions of the belief which made Athenian
philosophers look on a state of war between Greeks and barbarians as natural
^3, and defend slavery on the same ground of the original diversity of the
races that rule and the races that serve. The Roman dominion giving to many
nations a common speech and law, smote this feeling on its political side;
Christianity more effectually banished it from the soul by substituting for
the variety of local pantheons the belief in one God, before whom all men are
equal ^4.

[Footnote 1: Empires like the Persian did nothing to assimilate the subject
races, who retained their own laws and customs, sometimes their own princes,
and were bound only to serve in the armies and fill the treasury of the Great

[Footnote 2: Cf. Od. ix. 39: and the Hymn to the Pythian Apollo, 1. 274.

[Footnote 3: Plato, in the beginning of the Laws, represents it as natural
between all states.]

[Footnote 4: See especially Acts xvii. 26; Gal. iii. 28; Eph. ii. II sqq., iv.
3-6; Col. iii. II.]

It is on the religious life that nations repose. Because divinity was
divided, humanity had been divided likewise; the doctrine of the unity of God
now enforced the unity of man, who had been created in His image ^1. The
first lesson of Christianity was love, a love that was to join in one body
those whom suspicion and prejudice and pride of race had hitherto kept apart.
There was thus formed by the new religion a community of the faithful, a Holy
Empire, designed to gather all men into its bosom, and standing opposed to the
manifold polytheisms of the older world, exactly as the universal sway of the
Caesars was contrasted with the innumerable kingdoms and republics that had
gone before it. The analogy of the two made them appear parts of one great
world-movement toward unity: the coincidence of their boundaries, which had
begun before Constantine, lasted long enough after him to associate them
indissolubly together, and make the names of Roman and Christian convertible
^2. Oecumenical councils, where the whole spiritual body gathered itself from
every part of the temporal realm under the presidency of the temporal head,
presented the most visible and impressive examples of their connection ^3.
The language of civil government was, throughout the West, that of the sacred
writings and of worship; the greatest mind of his generation consoled the
faithful for the fall of their earthly commonwealth Rome, by describing to
them its successor and representative, the 'city which hath foundations, whose
builder and maker is God ^4.'

[Footnote 1: This is drawn out by Laurent, Histoire du Droit des Gens; and
Aegidi, Der Furstenrath nach dem Luneviller Frieden.]

[Footnote 2: 'Romanos enim vocitant homines nostrae religionis.' - Gregory of
Tours, quoted by Aegidi, from A. F. Pott, Essay on the Words 'Romisch,'
'Romanisch,' 'Roman,' 'Romantisch.'

Cf. Ducange, 'Romani olim dicti qui alias Christiani vel etiam

[Footnote 3: As a reviewer of a former edition has understood this passage as
meaning that 'people imagined the Christian religion was to last for ever
because the Holy Roman Empire was never to decay,' it may be worth while to
say that this is far from being the purport of the argument which this chapter
was designed to state. The converse would be nearer the truth: - 'people
imagined the Holy Roman Empire was never to decay, because the Christian
religion was to last for ever.'

The phenomenon may perhaps be stated thus: - Men who were already
disposed to believe the Roman Empire to be eternal for one set of reasons,
came to believe the Christian Church to be eternal for another and to them
more impressive set of reasons. Seeing the two institutions allied in fact,
they took their alliance and connection to be eternal also; and went on for
centuries believing in the necessary existence of the Roman Empire because
they believed in its necessary union with the Catholic Church.]

[Footnote 4: Augustine, in the De Civitate Dei. His influence, great through
all the Middle Ages, was greater on no one than on Charles. - 'Delectabatur et
libris sancti Augustini, praecipueque his qui De Civitate Dei praetitulati
sunt.' - Eginhard, Vita Karoli, cap. 24.]

Of these two parallel unities, that of the political and that of the
religious society, meeting in the higher unity of all Christians, which may be
indifferently called Catholicity or Romanism (since in that day those words
would have had the same meaning), that only which had been entrusted to the
keeping of the Church survived the storms of the fifth century. Many reasons
may be assigned for the firmness with which she clung to it. Seeing one
institution after another falling to pieces around her, seeing how countries
and cities were being severed from each other by the irruption of strange
tribes and the increasing difficulty of communication, she strove to save
religious fellowship by strengthening the ecclesiastical organization, by
drawing tighter every bond of outward union. Necessities of faith were still
more powerful. Truth, it was said, is one, and as it must bind into one body
all who hold it, so it is only by continuing in that body that they can
preserve it. Thus with the growing rigidity of dogma, which may be traced
from the council of Jerusalem to the council of Trent, there had arisen the
idea of supplementing revelation by tradition as a source of doctrine, of
exalting the universal conscience and belief above the individual, and
allowing the soul to approach God only through the universal consciousness,
represented by the sacerdotal order: principles still maintained by one branch
of the Church, and for some at least of which far weightier reasons could be
assigned then, in the paucity of written records and the blind ignorance of
the mass of the people than any to which their modern advocates have recourse.
There was another cause yet more deeply seated, and which it is hard
adequately to describe. It was not exactly a want of faith in the unseen, nor
a shrinking fear which dared not look forth on the universe alone: it was
rather the powerlessness of the untrained mind to realize the idea as an idea
and live in it: it was the tendency to see everything in the concrete, to turn
the parable into a fact, the doctrine into its most literal application, the
symbol into the essential ceremony; the tendency which intruded earthly
Madonnas and saints between the worshipper and the spiritual Deity, and could
satisfy its devotional feelings only by visible images even of these: which
conceived of man's aspirations and temptations as the result of the direct
actions of angels and devils: which expressed the strivings of the soul after
purity by the search of the Holy Grail: which in the Crusades sent myriads to
win at Jerusalem by earthly arms the sepulchre of Him whom they could not
serve in their own spirit nor approach by their own prayers. And therefore it
was that the whole fabric of mediaeval Christianity rested upon the idea of
the Visible Church. Such a Church could be in nowise local or limited. To
acquiesce in the establishment of National Churches would have appeared to
those men, as it must always appear when scrutinized, contradictory to the
nature of a religious body, opposed to the genius of Christianity, defensible,
when capable of defence at all, only as a temporary resource in the presence
of insuperable difficulties. Had this plan, on which so many have dwelt with
complacency in later times, been proposed either to the primitive Church in
its adversity or to the dominant Church of the ninth century, it would have
been rejected with horror; but since there were as yet no nations, the plan
was one which did not and could not present itself. The Visible Church was
therefore the Church Universal, the whole congregation of Christian men
dispersed throughout the world.

Now of the Visible Church the emblem and stay was the priesthood; and it
was by them, in whom dwelt whatever of learning and thought was left in
Europe, that the second great idea whereof mention has been made - the belief
in one universal temporal state - was preserved. As a matter of fact, that
state had perished out of the West, and it might seem their interest to let
its memory be lost. They, however, did not so calculate their interest. So
far from feeling themselves opposed to the civil authority in the seventh and
eighth centuries, as they came to do in the twelfth and thirteenth, the clergy
were fully persuaded that its maintenance was indispensable to their own
welfare. They were, be it remembered, at first Romans themselves living by
the Roman law, using Latin as their proper tongue and imbued with the idea of
the historical connection of the two powers. And by them chiefly was that
idea expounded and enforced for many generations, by none more earnestly than
by Alcuin of York, the adviser of Charles ^1. The limits of those two powers
had become confounded in practice: bishops were princes, the chief ministers
of the sovereign, sometimes even the leaders of their flocks in war: kings
were accustomed to summon ecclesiastical councils and appoint to
ecclesiastical offices.

[Footnote 1: 'Quapropter universorum precibus fidelium optandum est, ut in
omnem gloriam vestram extendatur imperium, ut scilicet catholica fides . . .
veraciter in una confessione cunctorum cordibus infigatur, quatenus summi
Regis donante pietate eadem sanctae pacis et perfectae caritatis omnes ubique
regat et custodiat unitas.' Quoted by Waitz (Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte,
ii. 182) from an unprinted letter of Alcuin.]

But, like the unity of the Church, the doctrine of a universal monarchy
had a theoretical as well as an historical basis, and may be traced up to
those metaphysical ideas out of which the system we call Realism developed
itself. The beginnings of philosophy in those times were logical; and its
first efforts were to distribute and classify: system, subordination,
uniformity, appeared to be that which was most desirable in thought as in
life. The search after causes became a search after principles of
classification; since simplicity and truth were held to consist not in an
analysis of thought into its elements, nor in an observation of the process of
its growth, but rather in a sort of genealogy of notions, a statement of the
relations of classes as containing or excluding each other. These classes,
genera or species, were not themselves held to be conceptions formed by the
mind from phenomena, nor mere accidental aggregates of objects grouped under
and called by some common name; they were real things, existing independently
of the individuals who composed them, recognized rather than created by the
human mind. In this view, Humanity is an essential quality present in all
men, and making them what they are: as regards it they are therefore not many
but one, the differences between individuals being no more than accidents.
The whole truth of their being lies in the universal property, which alone has
a permanent and independent existence. The common nature of the individuals
thus gathered into one Being is typified in its two aspects, the spiritual and
the secular, by two persons, the World-Priest and the World-Monarch, who
present on earth a similitude of the Divine unity. For, as we have seen, it
was only through its concrete and symbolic expression that a thought could
then be apprehended ^1. Although it was to unity in religion that the
clerical body was both by doctrine and by practice attached, they found this
inseparable from the corresponding unity in politics. They saw that every act
of man has a social and public as well as a moral and personal bearing, and
concluded that the rules which directed and the powers which rewarded or
punished must be parallel and similar, not so much two powers as different
manifestations of one and the same. That the souls of all Christian men
should be guided by one hierarchy, rising through successive grades to a
supreme head, while for their deeds they were answerable to a multitude of
local, unconnected, mutually irresponsible potentates, appeared to them
necessarily opposed to the Divine order. As they could not imagine, nor value
if they had imagined, a communion of the saints without its expression in a
visible Church, so in matters temporal they recognized no brotherhood of
spirit without the bonds of form, no universal humanity save in the image of a
universal State ^2. In this, as in so much else, the men of the Middle Ages
were the slaves of the letter, unable, with all their aspirations, to rise out
of the concrete, and prevented by the very grandeur and boldness of their
conceptions from carrying them out in practice against the enormous obstacles
that met them.

[Footnote 1: A curious illustration of this tendency of mind is afforded by
the descriptions we meet with of Learning or Theology (Studium) as a concrete
existence, having a visible dwelling in the University of Paris. The three
great powers which rule human life, says one writer, the Popedom, the Empire,
and Learning, have been severally entrusted to the three foremost nations of
Europe: Italians, Germans, French. 'His siquidem tribus, scilicet sacerdotio
imperio et studio, tanquam tribus virtutibus, videlicet naturali vitali et
scientiali, catholica ecclesia spiritualiter mirificatur, augmentatur et
regitur. His itaque tribus, tanquam fundamento, pariete et tecto, eadem
ecclesia tanquam materialiter proficit. Et sicut ecclesia materialis uno
tantum fundamento et uno tecto eget, parietibus vero quatuor, ita imperium
quatuor habet parietes, hoc est, quatuor imperii sedes, Aquisgranum, Arelatum,
Mediolanum, Romam.' - Fordanis Chronica; ap. Schardius, Sylloge Tractatuum.
And see Dollinger, Die Vergangenheit und Gegenwart der katholischen Theologie,
p. 8.]

[Footnote 2: ' Una est sola respublica totius populi Christiani, ergo de
necessitate erit et unus solus princeps et rex illius reipublicae, statutus et
stabilitus ad ipsius fidei et populi Christiani dilatationem et defensionem Ex
qua ratione concludit etiam Augustinus (De Civitate Dei, lib. xix.) quod extra
ecclesiam nunquam fuit nec potuit nec poterit esse verum imperium, etsi
fuerint imperatores qualitercumque et secundum quid, non simpliciter, qui
fuerunt extra fidem Catholicam et ecclesiam.' - Engelbert (abbot of Admont in
Upper Austria), De Ortu et Fine Imperii Romani (circa 1310).

In this 'de necessitate' everything is included.]

Deep as this belief had struck its roots, it might never have risen to
maturity nor sensibly affected the progress of events, had it not gained in
the pre-existence of the monarchy of Rome a definite shape and a definite
purpose. It was chiefly by means of the Papacy that this came to pass. When
under Constantine the Christian Church was framing her organization on the
model of the state which protected her, the bishop of the metropolis perceived
and improved the analogy between himself and the head of the civil government.
The notion that the chair of Peter was the imperial throne of the Church had
dawned upon the Popes very early in their history, and grew stronger every
century under the operation of causes already specified. Even before the
Empire of the West had fallen, St. Leo the Great could boast that to Rome,
exalted by the preaching of the chief of the Apostles to be a holy nation, a
chosen people, a priestly and royal city, there had been appointed a spiritual
dominion wider than her earthly sway ^1. In A.D. 476 Rome ceased to be the
political capital of the Western countries, and the Papacy, inheriting no
small part of the Emperor's power, drew to herself the reverence which the
name of the city still commanded, until by the middle of the eighth, or, at
latest, of the ninth century she had perfected in theory a scheme which made
her the exact counterpart of the departed despotism, the centre of the
hierarchy, absolute mistress of the Christian world. The character of that
scheme is best set forth in the singular document, most stupendous of all the
mediaeval forgeries, which under the name of the Donation of Constantine
commanded for seven centuries the unquestioning belief of mankind ^2. Itself
a portentous falsehood, it is the most unimpeachable evidence of the thoughts
and beliefs of the priesthood which framed it, some time between the middle of
the eighth and the middle of the tenth century. It tells how Constantine the
Great, cured of his leprosy by the prayers of Sylvester, resolved, on the
fourth day from his baptism, to forsake the ancient seat for a new capital on
the Bosphorus, lest the continuance of the secular government should cramp the
freedom of the spiritual, and how he bestowed therewith upon the Pope and his
successors the sovereignty over Italy and the countries of the West. But this
is not all, although this is what historians, in admiration of its splendid
audacity, have chiefly dwelt upon. The edict proceeds to grant to the Roman
pontiff and his clergy a series of dignities and privileges, all of them
enjoyed by the Emperor and his senate, all of them shewing the same desire to
make the pontifical a copy of the imperial office. The Pope is to inhabit the
Lateran palace, to wear the diadem, the collar, the purple cloak, to carry the
sceptre, and to be attended by a body of chamberlains. Similarly his clergy
are to ride on white horses and receive the honours and immunities of the
senate and patricians ^3.

[Footnote 1: See note (f), p. 32.]

[Footnote 2: This is admirably brought out by Aegidi, Der Fur tenrath nach dem
Luneviller Frieden.]

[Footnote 3: See the original forgery (or rather the extracts which Gratian
gives from it) in the Corpus Iuris Canonici, Dist. xcvi. cc. 13, 14: 'Et sicut
nostram terrenam imperialem potentiam, sic sacrosanctam Romanam ecclesiam
decrevimus veneranter honorari, et amplius quam nostrum imperium et terrenum
thronum sedem beati Petri gloriose exaltari, tribuentes ei potestatem et
gloriae dignitatem atque vigorem et honorificentiam imperialem . . . . Beato
Sylvestro patri nostro summo pontifici et universali urbis Romae papae, et
omnibus eius successoribus pontificibus, qui usque in finem mundi in sede
beati Petri erunt sessuri, de praesenti contradimus palatium imperii nostri
Lateranense, deinde diadema, videlicet coronam capitis nostri, simulque
phrygium, necnon et superhumerale, verum etiam et chlamydem purpuream et
tunicam coccineam, et omnia imperialia indumenta, sed et dignitatem imperialem
praesidentium equitum, conferentes etiam et imperialia sceptra, simulque
cuncta signa atque banda et diversa ornamenta imperialia et omnem processionem
imperialis culminis et gloriam potestatis nostrae. . . . . . Et sicut
imperialis militia ornatur ita et clerum sanctae Romanae ecclesiae ornari
decernimus. . . . Unde ut pontificalis apex non vilescat sed magis quam
terreni imperii dignitas gloria et potentia decoretur, ecce tam palatium
nostrum quam Romanam urbem et omnes Italiae seu occidentalium regionum
provincias loca et civitates beatissimo papae Sylvestro universali papae
contradimus atque relinquimus. . . . Ubi enim principatus sacerdotum et
Christianae religionis caput ab imperatore coelesti constitutum est, iustum
non est ut illic imperator terrenus habeat potestatem.'

The practice of kissing the Pope's foot was adopted in imitation of the
old imperial court. It was afterwards revived by the German Emperors.]

The notion which prevails throughout, that the chief of the religious
society must be in every point conformed to his prototype the chief of the
civil, is the key to all the thoughts and acts of the Roman clergy; not less
plainly seen in the details of papal ceremonial than it is in the gigantic
scheme of papal legislation. The Canon law was intended by its authors to
reproduce and rival the imperial jurisprudence; a correspondence was traced
between its divisions and those of the Corpus Juris Civilis, and Gregory IX,
who was the first to consolidate it into a code, sought the fame and received
the title of the Justinian of the Church. But the wish of the clergy was
always, even in the weakness or hostility of the temporal power, to imitate
and rival, not to supersede it; since they held it the necessary complement of
their own, and thought the Christian people equally imperilled by the fall of
either. Hence the reluctance of Gregory II to break with the Byzantine
princes ^1, and the maintenance of their titular sovereignty till A.D. 800:
hence the part which the Holy See played in transferring the crown to Charles,
the first sovereign of the West capable of fulfilling its duties; hence the
grief with which its weakness under his successors was seen, the gladness when
it descended to Otto as representative of the Frankish kingdom.

[Footnote 1: Dollinger has shewn in a recent work (Die Papst-Fabeln des
Mittelalters) that the common belief that Gregory II excited the revolt
against Leo the Iconoclast is unfounded.

So Anastasius, 'Ammonebat (sc. Gregorius Secundus) ne a fide vel amore
Romani imperii desisterent.' - Vitae Pontif, Rom.]

Up to the era of A.D. 800 there had been at Constantinople a legitimate
historical prolongation of the Roman Empire. Technically, as we have seen,
the election of Charles, after the deposition of Constantine VI, was itself a
prolongation, and maintained the old rights and forms in their integrity. But
the Pope, though he knew it not, did far more than effect a change of dynasty
when he rejected Irene and crowned the barbarian chief. Restorations are
always delusive. As well might one hope to stop the earth's course in her
orbit as to arrest that ceaseless change and movement in human affairs which
forbids an old institution, suddenly transplanted into a new order of things,
from filling its ancient place and serving its former ends. The dictatorship
at Rome in the second Punic war was not more unlike the dictatorships of Sulla
and Caesar, nor the States-general of Louis XIII to the assembly which his
unhappy descendant convoked in 1789, than was the imperial office of
Theodosius to that of Charles the Frank; and the seal, ascribed to A.D. 800,
which bears the legend 'Renovatio Romani Imperii ^1,' expresses, more justly
perhaps than was intended by its author, a second birth of the Roman Empire.

[Footnote 1: Of this curious seal, a leaden one, preserved at Paris, a figure
is given upon the cover of this volume. There are very few monuments of that
age whose genuineness can be considered altogether beyond doubt; but this seal
has many respectable authorities in its favour. See, among others, Le Blanc,
Dissertation historique sur quelques Monnoies de Charlemagne, Paris, 1689; J.
M. Heineccius, De Veteribus Germanorum aliarumque nationum sigillis, Lips.
1709; Anastasius, Vitoe Pontificum Romanorum, ed. Vignoli, Romae, 1752; Gotz,
Deutschlands Kayser-Munzen des Mittelalters, Dresden, 1827; and the
authorities cited by Waitz, Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte, iii. 179, n. 4.]

It is not, however, from Carolingian times that a proper view of this new
creation can be formed. That period was one of transition, of fluctuation and
uncertainty, in which the office, passing from one dynasty and country to
another, had not time to acquire a settled character and claims, and was
without the power that would have enabled it to support them. From the
coronation of Otto the Great a new period begins, in which the ideas that have
been described as floating in men's minds took clearer shape, and attached to
the imperial title a body of definite rights and definite duties. It is this
new phase, the Holy Empire, that we have now to consider.

Part II.

The realistic philosophy, and the needs of a time when the only notion of
civil or religious order was submission to authority, required the World-State
to be a monarchy; tradition, as well as the continuance of certain
institutions, gave the monarch the name of Roman Emperor. A king could not be
universal sovereign, for there were many kings: the Emperor must be, for there
had never been but one Emperor; he had in older and brighter days been the
actual lord of the civilized world; the seat of his power was placed beside
that of the spiritual autocrat of Christendom ^1. His functions will be seen
most clearly if we deduce them from the leading principle of mediaeval
mythology, the exact correspondence of earth and heaven. As God, in the midst
of the celestial hierarchy, ruled blessed spirits in paradise, so the Pope,
His vicar, raised above priests, bishops, metropolitans, reigned over the
souls of mortal men below. But as God is Lord of earth as well as of heaven,
so must he (the Imperator coelestis ^2) be represented by a second earthly
viceroy, the Emperor (Imperator terrenus ^2), whose authority shall be of and
for this present life. And as in this present world the soul cannot act save
through body, while yet the body is no more than an instrument and means for
the soul's manifestation, so must there be a rule and care of men's bodies as
well as of their souls, yet subordinated always to the well-being of that
which is the purer and the more enduring. It is under the emblem of soul and
body that the relation of the papal and imperial power is presented to us
throughout the Middle Ages ^3. The Pope, as God's vicar in matters spiritual,
is to lead men to eternal life; the Emperor, as vicar in matters temporal,
must so control them in their dealings with one another that they may be able
to pursue undisturbed the spiritual life, and thereby attain the same supreme
and common end of everlasting happiness. In the view of this object his chief
duty is to maintain peace in the world, while towards the Church his position
is that of Advocate, a title borrowed from the practice adopted by churches
and monasteries of choosing some powerful baron to protect their lands and
lead their tenants in war ^4. The functions of Advocacy are twofold: at home
to make the Christian people obedient to the priesthood, and to execute their
decrees upon heretics and sinners; abroad to propagate the faith among the
heathen, not sparing to use carnal weapons ^5. Thus does the Emperor answer in
every point to his antitype the Pope, his power being yet of a lower rank,
created on the analogy of the papal, as the papal itself had been modelled
after the elder Empire. The parallel holds good even in its details; for just
as we have seen the churchman assuming the crown and robes of the secular
prince, so now did he array the Emperor in his own ecclesiastical vestments,
the stole and the dalmatic, gave him a clerical as well as a sacred character,
removed his office from all narrowing associations of birth or country,
inaugurated him by rites every one of which was meant to symbolize and enjoin
duties in their essence religious. Thus the Holy Roman Church and the Holy
Roman Empire are one and the same thing, in two aspects; and Catholicism, the
principle of the universal Christian society, is also Romanism; that is, rests
upon Rome as the origin and type of its universality; manifesting itself in a
mystic dualism which corresponds to the two natures of its Founder. As divine
and eternal, its head is the Pope, to whom souls have been entrusted; as human
and temporal, the Emperor, commissioned to rule men's bodies and acts.

[Footnote 1: 'Praeterea mirari se dilecta fraternitas tua quod non Francorum
set Romanorum imperatores nos appellemus; set scire te convenit quia nisi
Romanorum imperatores essemus, utique nec Francorum. A Romanis enim hoc nomen
et dignitatem assumpsimus, apud quos profecto primum tantae culmen
sublimitatis effulsit,' &c. - Letter of the Emperor Lewis II to Basil the
Emperor at Constantinople, from Chron. Salernit., ap. Murat. S. R. I.]

[Footnote 2: 'Illam (sc. Romanam ecclesiam) solus ille fundavit, et super
petram fidei mox nascentis erexit, qui beato aeternae vitae clavigero terreni
simul et coelestis imperii iura commisit.' - Corpus Iuris Canonici, Dist. xii.
c. i. The expression is not uncommon in mediaeval writers. So 'unum est
imperium Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, cuis est pars ecclesia constituta
in terris,' in Lewis II's letter.]

[Footnote 3: 'Merito summus Pontifex Romanus episcopus dici potest rex et
sacerdos. Si enim dominus noster Iesus Christus sic appellatur, non videtur
incongruum suum vocare successorem. Corporale et temporale ex spirituali et
perpetuo dependet, sicut corporis operatio ex virtute animae. Sicut ergo
corpus per animam habet esse virtutem et operationem, ita et temporalis
iurisdictio principum per spiritualem Petri et successorum eius.' - St. Thomas
Aquinas, De Regimine Principum.]

[Footnote 4: 'Nonne Romana ecclesia tenetur imperatori tanquam suo patrono, et
imperator ecclesiam fovere et detensare tanquam suus vere patronus? certe sic.
. . . . Patronis vero concessum est ut praelatos in ecclesiis sui patronatus
eligant. Cum ergo imperator onus sentiat patronatus, ut qui tenetur eam
defendere, sentire debet honorem et emolumentum.' I quote this from a curious
document in Goldast's collection of tracts (Monarchia Imperii), entitled
'Letter of the four Universities, Paris, Oxford, Prague, and the "Romana
generalitas," to the Emperor Wenzel and Pope Urban,' A.D. 1380. The title can
scarcely be right, but if the document is, as in all probability it is, not
later than the fifteenth century, its being misdescribed, or even its being a
forgery, does not make it less valuable as an evidence of men's ideas.]

[Footnote 5: So Leo III in a charter issued on the day of Charles's
coronation: '. . . . actum in praesentia gloriosi atque excellentissimi filii
nostri Caroli quem auctore Deo in defensionem et provectionem sanctae
universalis ecclesiae hodie Augustum sacravimus.' - Jaffe, Regesta Pontificum
Romanorum, ad ann. 800.

So, indeed, Theodulf of Orleans, a contemporary of Charles, ascribes to
the Emperor an almost papal authority over the Church itself: -

'Coeli habet hic (sc. Papa) claves, proprias te iussit habere;
Tu regis ecclesiae, nam regit ille poli;
Tu regis eius opes, clerum populumque gubernas,
Hic te coelicolas ducet ad usque choros.'

In D. Bouquet, v. 415.]

In nature and compass the government of these two potentates is the same,
differing only in the sphere of its working; and it matters not whether we
call the Pope a spiritual Emperor or the Emperor a secular Pope. Nor, though
the one office is below the other as far as man's life on earth is less
precious than his life hereafter, is therefore, on the older and truer theory,
the imperial authority delegated by the papal. For, as has been said already,
God is represented by the Pope not in every capacity, but only as the ruler of
spirits in heaven: as sovereign of earth, He issues His commission directly to
the Emperor. Opposition between two servants of the same King is
inconceivable, each being bound to aid and foster the other: the co-operation
of both being needed in all that concerns the welfare of Christendom at large.
This is the one perfect and self-consistent scheme of the union of Church and
State; for, taking the absolute coincidence of their limits to be
self-evident, it assumes the infallibility of their joint government, and
derives, as a corollary from that infallibility, the duty of the civil
magistrate to root out heresy and schism no less than to punish treason and
rebellion. It is also the scheme which, granting the possibility of their
harmonious action, places the two powers in that relation which gives each of
them its maximum of strength. But by a law to which it would be hard to find
exceptions, in proportion as the State became more Christian, the Church, who
to work out her purposes had assumed worldly forms, became by the contact
worldlier, meaner, spiritually weaker; and the system which Constantine
founded amid such rejoicings, which culminated so triumphantly in the Empire
Church of the Middle Ages, has in each succeeding generation been slowly
losing ground, has seen its brightness dimmed and its completeness marred, and
sees now those who are most zealous on behalf of its surviving institutions
feebly defend or silently desert the principle upon which all must rest.

The complete accord of the papal and imperial powers which this theory,
as sublime as it is impracticable, requires, was attained only at a few points
in their history ^1. It was finally supplanted by another view of their
relation, which, professing to be a development of a principle recognized as
fundamental, the superior importance of the religious life, found increasing
favour in the eyes of fervent churchmen ^2. Declaring the Pope sole
representative on earth of the Deity, it concluded that from him, and not
directly from God, must the Empire be held - held feudally, it was said by
many - and it thereby thrust down the temporal power, to be the slave instead
of the sister of the spiritual ^3. Nevertheless, the Papacy in her meridian,
and under the guidance of her greatest minds, of Hildebrand, of Alexander, of
Innocent, not seeking to abolish or absorb the civil government, required only
its obedience, and exalted its dignity against all save herself ^4. It was
reserved for Boniface VIII, whose extravagant pretensions betrayed the decay
that was already at work within, to show himself to the crowding pilgrims at
the jubilee of A.D. 1300, seated on the throne of Constantine, arrayed with
sword, and crown, and sceptre, shouting aloud, 'I am Caesar - I am Emperor

[Footnote 1: Perhaps at no more than three: in the time of Charles and Leo;
again under Otto III and his two Popes, Gregory V and Sylvester II; thirdly,
under Henry III; certainly never thenceforth.]

[Footnote 2: The Sachsenspiegel (Speculum Saxonicum, circ. A.D. 1240), the
great North - German law book, says, 'The Empire is held from God alone, not
from the Pope. Emperor and Pope are supreme each in what has been entrusted
to him: the Pope in what concerns the soul; the Emperor in all that belongs to
the body and to knighthood.' The Schwabenspiegel, compiled half a century
later, subordinates the prince to the pontiff: 'Daz weltliche Schwert des
Gerichtes daz lihet der Babest dem Chaiser; daz geistlich ist dem Babest
gesetzt daz er damit richte.']

[Footnote 3: So Boniface VIII in the bull Unam Sanctam, will have but one head
for the Christian people: 'Igitur ecclesiae unius et unicae unum corpus, unum
caput, non duo capita quasi monstrum.']

[Footnote 4: St. Bernard writes to Conrad III: 'Non veniat anima mea in
consilium eorum qui dicunt vel imperio pacem et libertatem ecclesiae vel
ecclesiae prosperitatem et exaltationem imperii nocituram.' So in the De
Consideratione: 'Si utrumque simul habere velis, perdes utrumque,' of the
papal claim to temporal and spiritual authority, quoted by Gieseler.]

[Footnote 5: 'Sedens in solio armatus et cinctus ensem, habensque in capite
Constantini diadema, stricto dextra capulo ensis accincti, ait: "Numquid ego
summus sum pontifex? nonne ista est cathedra Petri? Nonne possum imperii iura
tutari? ego ego sum imperator."' - Fr. Pipinus (ap. Murat. S.R.I. ix.) l. iv.
c. 41. These words, however, are by this writer ascribed to Boniface when
receiving the envoys of the Emperor Albert I, in A.D. 1299. I have not been
able to find authority for their use at the jubilee, but give the current
story for what it is worth.

It has been suggested that Dante may be alluding to this sword scene in a
well-known passage of the Purgatorio (xvi. l. 106): -

'Soleva Roma, che 'l buon mondo feo
Duo Soli aver, che l' una e l' altra strada
Facean vedere, e del mondo e di Deo.
L' un l' atro ha spento, ed e giunta la spada
Col pastorale: e l' un coll, altro insieme
Per viva forza mal convien che vada.']

The theory of an Emperor's place and functions thus sketched cannot be
definitely assigned to any point of time; for it was growing and changing from
the fifth century to the fifteenth. Nor need it surprise us that we do not
find in any one author a statement of the grounds whereon it rested, since
much of what seems strangest to us was then too obvious to be formally
explained. No one, however, who examines mediaeval writings can fail to
perceive, sometimes from direct words, oftener from allusions or assumptions,
that such ideas as these are present to the minds of the authors ^1. That
which it is easiest to prove is the connection of the Empire with religion.
From every record, from chronicles and treatises, proclamations, laws, and
sermons, passages may be adduced wherein the defence and spread of the faith,
and the maintenance of concord among the Christian people, are represented as
the function to which the Empire has been set apart. The belief expressed by
Lewis II, 'Imperii dignitas non in vocabuli voce sed in gloriosae pietatis
culmine consistit ^2,' appears again in the address of the Archbishop of Mentz
to Conrad II ^3, as Vicar of God; is reiterated by Frederick I ^4, when he
writes to the prelates of Germany, 'On earth God has placed no more than two
powers, and as there is in heaven but one God, so is there here one Pope and
one Emperor. Divine providence has specially appointed the Roman Empire to
prevent the continuance of schism in the Church ^5;' is echoed by jurists and
divines down to the days of Charles V ^6. It was a doctrine which we shall
find the friends and foes of the Holy See equally concerned to insist on, the
one to make the transference (translatio) from the Greeks to the Germans
appear entirely the Pope's work, and so establish his right of overseeing or
cancelling his rival's election, the others by setting the Emperor at the head
of the Church to reduce the Pope to the place of chief bishop of his realm ^7.
His headship was dwelt upon chiefly in the two duties already noticed. As the
counterpart of the Mussulman Commander of the Faithful, he was leader of the
Church militant against her infidel foes, was in this capacity summoned to
conduct crusades, and in later times recognized chief of the confederacies
against the conquering Ottomans. As representative of the whole Christian
people, it belonged to him to convoke General Councils, a right not without
importance even when exercised concurrently with the Pope, but far more
weighty when the object of the Council was to settle a disputed election, or,
as at Constance, to depose the reigning pontiff himself.

[Footnote 1: See especially Peter de Andlo (De Imperio Romano); Landolfo
Colonna (De translatione Imperii Romani); Dante (De Monarchia); Engelbert (De
Ortu et Fine Imperii Romani); Marsilius Patavinus (De translatione Imperii
Romani); Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (De Ortu et Authoritate Imperii Romani);
Zoannetus (De Imperio Romano atque ejus Iurisdictione); and the writers in
Schardius's Sylloge, and in Goldast's Collection of Tracts, entitled Monarchia

[Footnote 2: Letter of Lewis II to Basil the Macedonian, in Chron. Salernit.
in Mur. S.R.I.; also given by Baronius, Ann. Eccl. ad ann. 871.]

[Footnote 3: 'Ad summum dignitatis pervenisti: Vicarius es Christi.' Wippo,
Vita Chuonradi (ap. Pertz), c. 3.]

[Footnote 4: Letter in Radewic, ap. Murat. S.R.I. [The name is now usually
written Rahewin: so Waitz in new ed. of Mon. Germ.]]

[Footnote 5: Lewis IV is styled in one of his proclamations, 'Gentis humanae,
orbis Christiani custos, urbi et orbi a Deo electus praeesse.' - Pfeffinger,
Vitriarius Illustratus.]

[Footnote 6: In a document issued by the Diet of Speyer (A.D. 1529) the
Emperor is called 'Oberst, Vogt, und Haupt der Christenheit.' Hieronymus
Balbus, writing about the same time, puts the question whether all Christians
are subject to the Emperor in temporal things, as they are to the Pope in
spiritual, and answers it by saying, 'Cum ambo ex eodem fonte perfluxerint et
eadem semita incedant, de utroque idem puto sentiendum.']

[Footnote 7: 'Non magis ad Papam depositio seu remotio pertinet quam ad
quoslibet regum praelatos, qui reges suos prout assolent, consecrant et
inungunt.' - Letter of Frederick II (lib. i. c. 3).]

No better illustrations can be desired than those to be found in the
office for the imperial coronation at Rome, too long to be transcribed here,
but well worthy of an attentive study ^1. The rights prescribed in it are
rights of consecration to a religious office: the Emperor, besides the sword,
globe, and sceptre of temporal power, receives a ring as the symbol of his
faith, is ordained a subdeacon, assists the Pope in celebrating mass, partakes
as a clerical person of the communion in both kinds, is admitted a canon of
St. Peter and St. John Lateran. The oath to be taken by an elector begins,
'Ego N. volo regem Romanorum in Caesarem promovendum, temporale caput populo
Christiano eligere.' The Emperor swears to cherish and defend the Holy Roman
Church and her bishop: the Pope prays after the reading of the Gospel, 'Deus
qui ad praedicandum aeterni regni evangelium Imperium Romanum praeparasti,
praetende famulo tuo Imperatori nostro arma coelestia.' Among the Emperor's
official titles there occur these: 'Head of Christendom,' 'Defender and
Advocate of the Christian Church,' 'Temporal Head of the Faithful,' 'Protector
of Palestine and of the Catholic Faith ^2.'

[Footnote 1: Liber Ceremonialis Romanus, lib. i. sect. 5; with which compare
the Coronatio Romana of Henry VII, in Pertz, and Muratori's Dissertation in
vol. i. of the Antiquitates Italiae Medii Aevi.]

[Footnote 2: See Goldast, Collection of Imperial Constitutions; and Moser,
Romische Kayser]

Very singular are the reasonings used by which the necessity and divine
right of the Empire are proved out of the Bible. The mediaeval theory of the
relation of the civil power to the priestly was profoundly influenced by the
account in the Old Testament of the Jewish theocracy, in which the king,
though the institution of his office was a derogation from the purity of the
older system, appears divinely chosen and commissioned, and stood in a
peculiarly intimate relation to the national religion. From the New Testament
the authority and eternity of Rome herself was established. Every passage was
seized on where submission to the powers that be is enjoined, every instance
cited where obedience had actually been rendered to imperial officials, a
special emphasis being laid on the sanction which Christ Himself had given to
Roman dominion by pacifying the world through Augustus, by being born at the
time of the taxing, by paying tribute to Caesar, by saying to Pilate, 'Thou
couldest have no power at all against Me except it were given thee from

More attractive to the mystical spirit than these direct arguments were
those drawn from prophecy, or based on the allegorical interpretation of
Scripture. Very early in Christian history had the belief formed itself that
the Roman Empire - as the fourth beast of Daniel's vision, as the iron legs
and feet of Nebuchadnezzar's image - was to be the world's last and universal
kingdom. From Origen and Jerome downwards it found unquestioned acceptance
^1, and that not unnaturally. For no new power had arisen to extinguish the
Roman, as the Persian monarchy had been blotted out by Alexander, as the
realms of his successors had fallen before the conquering republic herself.
Every Northern conqueror, Goth, Lombard, Burgundian, had cherished her memory
and preserved her laws; Germany had adopted even the name of the Empire
'dreadful and terrible and strong exceedingly, and diverse from all that were
before it.' To these predictions, and to many others from the Apocalypse, were
added those which in the Gospels and Epistles foretold the advent of
Antichrist ^2. He was to succeed the Roman dominion, and the Popes are more
than once warned that by weakening the Empire they are hastening the coming of
the enemy and the end of the world ^3. It is not only when groping in the
dark labyrinths of prophecy that mediaeval authors are quick in detecting
emblems, imaginative in explaining them. Men were wont in those days to
interpret Scripture in a singular fashion. Not only did it not occur to them
to ask what meaning words had to those to whom they were originally addressed;
they were quite as careless whether the sense they discovered was one which
the language used would naturally and rationally bear to any reader at any
time. No analogy was too faint, no allegory too fanciful, to be drawn out of
a simple text; and, once propounded, the interpretation acquired in argument
all the authority of the text itself. Thus the two swords of which Christ
said, 'It is enough,' became the spiritual and temporal powers, and the grant
of the spiritual to Peter involves the supremacy of the Papacy ^4. Thus one
writer proves the eternity of Rome from the seventy-second Psalm, 'They shall
fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations;' the
moon being of course, since Gregory VII, the Roman Empire, as the sun, or
greater light, is the Popedom. Another quoting, 'Qui tenet teneat donec
auferatur ^5,' with Augustine's explanation thereof ^6, says, that when 'he
who letteth' is removed, tribes and provinces will rise in rebellion, and the
Empire to which God has committed the government of the human race will be
dissolved. From the miseries of his own time (he wrote under Frederick III)
he predicts that the end is near. The same spirit of symbolism seized on the
number of the electors: 'the seven lamps burning in the unity of the sevenfold
spirit which illumine the Holy Empire ^7.' Strange legends told how Romans and
Germans were of one lineage; how Peter's staff had been found on the banks of
the Rhine, the miracle signifying that a commission was issued to the Germans
to reclaim wandering sheep to the one fold. So complete does the scriptural
proof appear in the hands of mediaeval churchmen, many holding it a mortal sin
to resist the power ordained of God, that we forget they were all the while
only adapting to an existing institution what they found written already; we
begin to fancy that the Empire was maintained, obeyed, exalted for centuries,
on the strength of words to which we attach in almost every case a wholly
different meaning.

[Footnote 1: The abbot Engelbert (De Ortu et Fine Imperii Romani) quotes
Origen and Jerome to this effect, and proceeds himself to explain, from 2
Thess. ii., how the falling away will precede the coming of Antichrist. There
will be a triple 'discessio,' of the kingdoms of the earth from the Roman
Empire, of the Church from the Apostolic See, of the faithful from the faith.
Of these, the first causes the second; the temporal sword to punish heretics
and schismatics being no longer ready to work the will of the rulers of the

[Footnote 2: A full statement of the views that prevailed in the earlier
Middle Age regarding Antichrist - as well as of the singular prophecy of the
Frankish Emperor who shall appear in the latter days, conquer the world, and
then going to Jerusalem shall lay down his crown on the Mount of Olives and
deliver over the Kingdom to Christ - may be found in the little treatise, Vita
Antichristi, which Adso, monk and afterwards abbot of Moutier-en-Der, compiled
(circa 950) for the information of Queen Gerberga, wife of Louis d'Outremer.
Antichrist is to be born a Jew of the tribe of Dan (Gen. xlix. 17), 'non de
episcopo et monacha, sicut alii delirando dogmatizant, sed de immundissima
meretrice et crudelissimo nebulone. Totus in peccato concipietur, in peccato
generabitur, in peccato nascetur.' His birthplace is Babylon: he is to be
brought up in Bethsaida and Chorazin.

Adso's book may be found printed in Migne, t. ci. p. 1290.]

[Footnote 3: S. Thomas explains the prophecy in a remarkable manner, shewing
how the decline of the Empire is no argument against its fulfilment. 'Dicendum
quod nondum cessavit, sed est commutatum de temporali in spirituale, ut dicit
Leo Papa in sermone de Apostolis: et ideo discessio a Romano imperio debet
intelligi non solum a temporali sed etiam a spirituali, scilicit a fide
Catholica Romanae Ecclesiae. Est autem hoc conveniens signum nam Christus
venit, quando Romanum imperium omnibus dominabatur: ita e contra signum
adventus Antichristi est discessio ab eo.' - Comment, ad 2 T'hess. ii.]

[Footnote 4: See note (z), page 119. The Papal party sometimes insisted that
both swords were given to Peter, while the imperialists assigned the temporal
sword to John. Thus a gloss to the Sachsenspiegel says, 'Dat eine svert hadde
Sinte Peter, dat het nu de paves: dat andere hadde Johannes, dat het nu de

[Footnote 5: 2 Thess. ii. 7.]

[Footnote 6: St. Augustine, however, though he states the view (applying the
passage to the Roman Empire) which was generally received in the Middle Ages,
is careful not to commit himself positively to it.]

[Footnote 7: Fordanis Chronica (written towards the close of the thirteenth

It would be a task both pleasant and profitable to pass on from the
theologians to the poets and artists of the Middle Ages, and endeavour to
trace through their works the influence of the ideas which have been expounded
above. But it is one far too wide for the scope of the present treatise; and
one which would demand an acquaintance with those works themselves such as
only minute and long-continued study could give. For even a slight knowledge
enables any one to see how much still remains to be interpreted in the
imaginative literature and in the paintings of those times, and how apt we are
in glancing over a piece of work to miss those seemingly trifling indications
of the artist's thought or belief which are all the more precious that they
are indirect or unconscious. Therefore a history of mediaeval art which shall
evolve its philosophy from its concrete forms, if it is to have any value at
all, must be minute in description as well as subtle in method. But lest this
class of illustrations should appear to have been wholly forgotten, it may be
well to mention here two paintings in which the theory of the mediaeval empire
is unmistakeably set forth. One of them is in Rome, the other in Florence;
every traveller in Italy may examine both for himself.

The first of these is the famous mosaic of the Lateran triclinium,
constructed by Pope Leo III about A.D. 800, and which, afterwards restored and
moved to its present site, may still be seen over against the facade of St.
John Lateran. Originally meant to adorn the state banqueting-hall of the
Popes, it is now placed in the open air, in the finest situation in Rome,
looking from the brow of a hill across the green ridges of the Campagna to the
olive-groves of Tivoli and the glistering crags and snow-capped summits of the
Umbrian and Sabine Apennine. It represents in the centre Christ surrounded by
the Apostles, whom He is sending forth to preach the Gospel; one hand is
extended to bless, the other holds a book with the words 'Pax Vobis.' Below
and to the right Christ is depicted again, and this time sitting: on his right
hand kneels Pope Sylvester, on his left the Emperor Constantine; to the one he
gives the keys of heaven and hell, to the other a banner surmounted by a
cross. In the group on the opposite, that is, on the left side of the arch,
we see the Apostle Peter seated, before whom in like manner kneel Pope Leo III
and Charles the Emperor; the latter wearing, like Constantine, his crown.
Peter, himself grasping the keys, gives to Leo the pallium of an archbishop,
to Charles the banner of the Christian army. The inscription is, 'Beate Petre
donas vitam Leoni PP et bictoriam Carulo regi donas;' while round the arch is
written, 'Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax omnibus bonae voluntatis.'

The order and nature of the ideas here symbolized is sufficiently clear.
First comes the revelation of the Gospel, and the divine commission to gather
all men into its fold. Next, the institution, at the memorable era of
Constantine's conversion, of the two powers by which the Christian people is
to be respectively taught and governed. Thirdly, we are shewn the permanent
Vicar of God, the Apostle who keeps the keys of heaven and hell,
re-establishing these same powers on a new and firmer basis ^1. The badge of
ecclesiastical supremacy he gives to Leo as the spiritual head of the faithful
on earth, the banner of the Church Militant to Charles, who is to maintain her
cause against heretics and infidels.

[Footnote 1: Compare with this the words which Pope Hadrian I had used, some
twenty-three years before, of Charles as representative of Constantine: 'Et
sicut temporibus Beati Sylvestri, Romani pontificis, a sanctae recordationis
piissimo Constantino magno imperatore, per eius largitatem sancta Dei
catholica et apostolica Romana ecclesia elevata atque exaltata est, et
potestatem in his Hesperiae partibus largiri dignatus est, ita et in his
vestris felicissimis temporibus atque nostris, sancta Dei ecclesia, id est,
beati Petri apostoli germinet atque exsultet, ut omnes gentes quae haec
audierint edicere valeant, "Domine salvum fac regem, et exaudi nos in die in
qua invocaverimus te;" quia ecce novus Christianissimus Dei Constantinus
imperator his temporibus surrexit, per quem omnia Deus sanctae suae ecclesiae
beati apostolorum principis Petri largiri dignatus est.' - Letter XLIX of Cod.
Carol, A.D. 777 (in Mur. Scriptores Rerum Italicarum).

This letter is memorable as containing the first allusion, or what seems
an allusion, to Constantine's Donation.

The phrase 'sancta Dei ecclesia, id est. B. Petri apostoli,' is worth

The second painting is of greatly later date. It is a fresco in the
chapter-house of the Dominican convent of Santa Maria Novella ^1 at Florence,
usually known as the Capellone degli Spagnuoli. It has been commonly
ascribed, on Vasari's authority, to Simone Martini of Siena, but an
examination of the dates of his life seems to discredit this view ^2. Most
probably it was executed between A.D. 1340 and 1350. It is a huge work,
covering one whole wall of the chapter-house, and filled with figures, some of
which, but seemingly on no sufficient authority, have been taken to represent
eminent persons of the time - Cimabue, Arnolfo, Boccaccio, Petrarch, Laura,
and others. In it is represented the whole scheme of man's life here and
hereafter - the Church on earth and the Church in heaven. Full in front are
seated side by side the Pope and the Emperor: on their right and left, in a
descending row, minor spiritual and temporal officials; next to the Pope a
cardinal, bishops, and doctors; next to the Emperor, the King of France and a
line of nobles and knights. Behind them appears the Duomo of Florence as an
emblem of the Visible Church, while at their feet is a flock of sheep (the
faithful) attacked by ravening wolves (heretics and schismatics), whom a pack
of spotted dogs (the Dominicans ^3) combat and chase away. From this, the
central foreground of the picture, a path winds round and up a height to a
great gate where the Apostle sits on guard to admit true believers: they
passing through it are met by choirs of seraphs, who lead them on through the
delicious groves of Paradise. Above all, at the top of the painting and just
over the spot where his two lieutenants, Pope and Emperor, are placed below,
is the Saviour enthroned amid saints and angels ^4.

[Footnote 1: The church in which the opening scene of Boccaccio's Decameron is

[Footnote 2: So Kugler (Eastlake's ed. vol. i. p. 144), and so also Messrs.
Crowe and Cavalcaselle, in their New History of Painting in Italy, vol. ii.
pp. 85 sqq.]

[Footnote 3: Domini canes. Spotted because of their black-and-white raiment.]

[Footnote 4: There is of course a great deal more detail in the picture, which
it does not appear necessary to describe. St. Dominic is a conspicuous figure.

It is worth remarking that the Emperor, who is on the Pope's left hand,
and so made slightly inferior to him while superior to every one else, holds
in his hand, instead of the usual imperial globe, a death's head, typifying
the transitory nature of his power.]

Here, too, there needs no comment. The Church Militant is the perfect
counterpart of the Church Triumphant: her chief danger is from those who would
rend the unity of her visible body, the seamless garment of her heavenly Lord;
and that devotion to His person which is the sum of her faith and the essence
of her being, must on earth be rendered to those two lieutenants whom He has
chosen to govern in His name.

A theory such as that which it has been attempted to explain and
illustrate, is utterly opposed to restrictions of place or person. The idea
of one Christian people, all whose members are equal in the sight of God, - an
idea so forcibly expressed in the unity of the priesthood, where no barrier
separated the successor of the Apostle from the humblest curate, - and in the
prevalence of one language for worship and government, made the post of
Emperor independent of the race, or rank, or actual resources of its occupant.
The Emperor was entitled to the obedience of Christendom, not as hereditary
chief of a victorious tribe, or feudal lord of a portion of the earth's
surface, but as solemnly invested with an office. Not only did he excel in
dignity the kings of the earth: his power was different in its nature; and, so
far from supplanting or rivalling theirs, rose above them to become the source
and needful condition of their authority in their several territories, the
bond which joined them in one harmonious body. The vast dominions and
vigorous personal action of Charles the Great had concealed this distinction
while he reigned; under his successors the imperial crown appeared
disconnected from the direct government of the kingdoms they had established,
existing only in the form of an undefined suzerainty, as the type of that
unity without which men's minds could not rest. It was characteristic of the
Middle Ages, that demanding the existence of an Emperor, they were careless
who he was or how he was chosen, so he had been duly inaugurated; and that
they were not shocked by the contrast between unbounded rights and actual
helplessness. At no time in the world's history has theory, pretending all
the while to control practice, been so utterly divorced from it. Ferocious
and sensual, that age worshipped humility and asceticism: there has never been
a purer ideal of love, nor a grosser profligacy of life.

The power of the Roman Emperor cannot as yet be called international;
though this, as we shall see, became in later times its most important aspect;
for in the tenth century national distinctions had scarcely begun to exist.
But its genius was clerical and old Roman, in no wise territorial or Teutonic:
it rested not on armed hosts or wide lands, but upon the duty, the awe, the
love of its subjects.