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A History of Diplomacy in the International Development of Europe: Vol I The Struggle for Universal Empire
- The Genesis and Theory of the Carlovingian Empire
by David Jayne Hill, LL.D.

The act of coronation, according to the contemporary biographer of Charles the Great, was received by him with a shock of surprise. Had he known of what was intended, he is reported to have said, he would not have entered the basilica on that day.1 This declaration does not imply that Charles had never considered or desired the imperial honor, nor that he was opposed to receiving it. Still less does it warrant the assumption that his statement was a fiction, intended to express his modesty or his indifference to the whole transaction. It probably indicates his feelings regarding the time and place of the coronation, the fact that he had not deliberately prepared for it, or, perhaps, his dissatisfaction with the manner in which the ceremony had been performed.

There were many circumstances connected with the form of Leo's act in crowning Charles which might naturally have been displeasing to him. It not only plunged the new emperor into antagonism with Byzantium without regard to his own plans and wishes, but its theatrical character may have been offensive to the simple taste of the unostentatious Frank. It blended and confused, in a manner wholly unprecedented, the civil and the religious elements of an imperial inauguration, and gave to the Pope the appearance of conferring rights which might be more incontestably acquired by a different method. The fact that Charles subsequently solemnized the coronation of his son and successor without the consecration or presence of the Pope, does not of necessity imply that he would have preferred to place the crown on his own head, rather than to receive it from the hands of the Pope; yet it indicates that he not only distinguished between the imperial investiture as a public right and the act of consecration as a religious ceremony, but that he did not regard the bestowment of the imperial office as a papal prerogative. The political instinct of Charles appears to have discerned the fact, which subsequent events have made so evident, that his position was in some sense compromised by Leo's unexpected act. However great his desire may have been to receive the imperial honor, it cannot be doubted that the time, the place, and the manner of his coronation were a surprise to him, not wholly unaccompanied with disturbed reflections.

It would be an inexcusable error, in view of the evidence to the contrary contained in the records of the time, to infer from the statement of Charles regarding his ignorance of Leo's intention to crown him emperor on that Christmas day, that the idea of becoming Emperor of the Romans had never before occurred to him. As early as 778, Pope Adrian I, in a private letter, referring to the liberality of Constantine the Great toward the Holy See, had written, "A new Emperor Constantine is born for us, by whom God has deigned to bestow his blessings upon his Church." A medal had been struck before the coronation bearing the anagrams of Leo and Charles without reference to the Byzantine Empire, to which Rome still legally belonged. Even if we reject the story of John Diaconus, that Leo III had promised Charles, on the occasion of his flight to Paderborn, to bestow on him the imperial crown if the King would defend him from his enemies; 2‘ and also the story that Alcuin presented the Emperor on the day of his coronation with a beautiful manuscript of the Bible, bearing the inscription: "Ad splendorem imperialis potentiae," seeming to imply that the coronation was known beforehand 3 still other indications of the coming event were not wanting. When Charles presented to the Pope a generous portion of the spoil he had taken from the Huns, Leo III had used it for the embellishment of the churches of Rome and the Lateran palace. In 796, he had placed in the apse of the basilica of St. Sunna, on the Quinnal, a mosaic containing portraits of Charles and himself in a group symbolizing the close relation between the Papacy and the Frankish king, - the first temporal prince to take his place in this manner in a Roman church.

Before 799, Leo had decorated that very triclinium in the Lateran palace where the tribunal had sat in judgment upon his enemies with a group in mosaic in which, on one side, appear the Saviour, with Pope Sylvester kneeling on his right and the Emperor Constantine on his left; on the other, St. Peter, with Leo III on his right, holding the emblems of the papal office, and Charles kneeling on the left, with the banner of Rome as the sign of his temporal authority. The picture presents in prophecy and in substance the whole theory of the Mediaeval Empire. No one could behold it without thinking of Charles as the new Constantine. 4

It is not to be doubted, therefore, that the idea of receiving the imperial title had often been considered by him; but it is uncertain whether or not a decision to act in a prescribed manner had yet been formed. The motives of both Charles and Leo can be understood only in the light of the diplomatic relations with Byzantium, which had been complicated by previous negotiations.

In 780, the Emperor Leo IV had left as his heir his young son Constantine VI, under the regency of his mother the Empress Irene. This beautiful, crafty, and ambitious Athenian, endowed with a marvellous genius for intrigue and possessing an insatiable love of power, was at that time desirous of avoiding all foreign complications, in order that she might devote all her energies to the consolidation of her empire. The overthrow of the Lombard monarchy in Italy brought the rule of Charles to the borders of her Italian possessions, and his conquests in Carinthia and on the Danube presented still other points of contact. Realizing the fictitious character of her authority in these provinces, and the probability that Charles would wish to round out his frontiers, the Empress eagerly sought a friendly alliance by which the coming storm might be, for a time at least, averted. The Frankish king had, on his part, prepared for the conflict by entering into friendly relations not only with the Slavs and the sovereigns of Bagdad, but with all the little princes of Egypt, Tripoli, and the coast of Africa, and had thus encompassed the Empire with the web of his alliances.

Cut off from other expedients, her borders imperilled by the Bulgarians on the Danube, and disturbed by the insecurity of her rule, Irene, in her extremity, had turned toward an alliance with the Franks as her last resort. In 781, while Charles was celebrating Easter in Rome, an embassy had arrived, proposing that a family compact be sealed with the Byzantine Empress by the betrothal of Rothrude, the eldest daughter of Charles, to the young Emperor Constantine. The prestige of such a marriage was too attractive a prize to be resisted, and Charles entered with enthusiasm into the plans of Irene. The betrothal was celebrated with great pomp, and oaths of fidelity were mutually sworn. A Greek eunuch was sent to Aachen to instruct the young princess in the language of her eleven-year-old fiancé and to prepare her for her imperial future.

The East and the West being thus linked in a family alliance which promised the future restoration of the old Roman Empire under rulers of the same blood, the occasion had seemed ripe for a corresponding reunion of the Church. Irene, desiring the good-will and influence of the Holy See, having assured herself of support at Constantinople, in October, 785, had written a flattering letter to the Pope, in which she promised that his primacy should be recognized in the East over that of the Greek Patriarch, and in the name of her predecessors apologized for the errors of the past, proposing a general council at which the destruction of the sacred images should be condemned and the Catholic faith adopted.

Delighted with this exaltation of his authority and these signs of repentance by the successor of the heretical emperors, Adrian I had written in reply a long explanation of the Roman attitude on the question of image worship, explaining that it is "not to the design or painting that honor is rendered, but to that which the picture recalls." The council had been convoked in 787, though not without violent opposition among the Eastern clergy, the necessary decrees had been passed, and the unity of Christendom had seemed once more restored, when a new condition of affairs suddenly supervened which produced a general rupture.

Once assured of the orthodoxy of the Empire, beguiled by the apparent piety and devotion of the Empress, and happy to be once more the universally recognized head of the Church, Pope Adrian I had shown that he no longer felt the need of the Frankish protection, and was not inclined to treat Charles as a necessary ally; with the result that, from 788 to 791, the correspondence between the Pope and the Frankish court was discontinued. On the other hand, Irene, the critical moment in her affairs having passed, the friendship of Rome having been secured, and the time having nearly arrived when the marriage contract was to be fulfilled, had concluded the occasion opportune to abandon the affiance with Charles, and to turn her hand against her son, who would, in a short time, supersede her regency by his own government. As the young bride was preparing at Aachen to set out on her journey to meet her imperial husband at Constantinople, Irene, apparently without notification to the Frankish court, had suddenly compelled young Constantine to marry an Armenian, whom he did not love and finally repudiated. The chroniclers of the period picture the incident with all the colors of romance; for Constantine, through reports of the beauty and virtues of Rothrude, had conceived for her a deep affection. It was the beginning of that fierce struggle between the Empress and her son which, after her own temporary confinement in the palace at Eleutheria, ended in his blinding and imprisonment, while she usurped and exercised his legal powers.

The Frankish court endeavored to conceal its humiliation, but the Greek historians leave no doubt that it was at Constantinople, not at Aachen, that the marriage contract was broken; and it was certainly Irene who took the initiative in the war which followed in Southern Italy, where, with the Pope's aid, she doubtless hoped to arrest the plans of Charles.

Deeply offended by Adrian's attitude toward Byzantium, Charles had, by a tour de force, wrung from him a concession which was yielded only with reluctance. The Pope had sanctioned the decrees of the Council of Nicaea regarding the sacred images, but Charles had made this act the occasion for testing the strength of Adrian and asserting his own influence. By the Synod of Frankfort of 794, presided over by Charles in person and directed by his political interests, Adrian was made to understand that, in winning back the East by the methods he had chosen, he was incurring the danger of schism and revolt in the West. Ostensibly attacking the decisions of the Council of Nicaea of 787, which, it was represented, had not only condemned the destruction of the sacred images, but had gone so far as to prescribe their " adoration," the real purpose of Charles was to reassert his control over Adrian by forcing him to change his policy. The "Libri Carolini" inspired if not dictated by Charles himself, were composed and sent to the Pope to express the doubts and dissent of Charles and his party. The political significance of this polemic is evident from the hatred with which it is surcharged for the Greeks and their princes. In his reply, Adrian points out that it. is by a mistranslation of a Greek word that the "adoration" of the sacred images is substituted for the "reverence" which is due them. The explanation should have ended the controversy, for there was in reality no essential difference between the views sustained in the "Libri Carolini," the decrees of the Nicaean council, and the papal exposition of them; but the debate was not in fact doctrinal, but essentially political, having no other purpose than to disturb the mind of Adrian I and change his policy toward Byzantium.

Adrian had thus been thrown into a painful embarrassment and forced to exercise his supple diplomacy. His keen intelligence could not fail to comprehend the inconstancy of the Greeks, the probability of their deserting him at a critical moment, and the necessity of appeasing Charles and regaining his friendship. With this end in view, while defending the decisions of the council, - which he could not repudiate without self-stultification and violence to the orthodoxy of Rome, - he had assured Charles that he had no intention of favoring the Byzantine politics, but on the contrary condemned the indisposition of the Empress to restore to the Patrimony of St. Peter the possessions which her predecessors had taken away in the time of their heresy. "If the Greeks do not restore our rights," he wrote to Charles, "we shall continue to regard them as hardened heretics." Thus, leaving open a door for retreat from his alliance with the East, by placing disregard of the temporal rights of the Papacy on a level with apostasy from Catholic doctrine, he had ingeniously sought to make his peace with Charles.

The death of Adrian I in the following year and the accession of Leo III to the papal office had completely restored the solidarity between the Papacy and the Frankish king, and the experience of his predecessor had revealed to Leo how essential to the papal interest the friendship of Charles was. Before his journey to Paderborn, to seek the protection of his friend, Leo had done all in his power to secure from Byzantium an intervention on his behalf at Rome; but the effort had proved fruitless. No aid was to be hoped for in that direction, and for him the imperial authority was practically non-existent.

In the light of the events which have been narrated, we are prepared to understand the motive which actuated Leo in his eagerness to invest Charles with the legal power of the imperial office. The death of Constantine VI, as the result of the cruelties perpetrated upon him by Irene, had left the imperial throne vacant; for, although other women had practically ruled at Byzantium, none had ever borne the imperial honor; and it was not believed that a woman could hold the office of emperor. With a vacancy in the Empire to justify the step, the investiture of Charles seemed most natural and appropriate, since he had afforded to the Pope the protection which Byzantium had denied, and was prepared to restore the rule of imperial justice.

The need of imperial authority at Rome, in the critical circumstances of the moment when Charles was crowned, was desperate. On December 23, 800, Leo III had satisfactorily established his own innocence by his solemn declaration in St. Peter's before Charles and the assembled prelates and clergy of Rome; but the problem still remained, how to punish the conspirators against him, and above all how to secure his person from similar attacks in the future. The malefactors found guilty of the assault upon Leo had been sent into temporary exile; but, to construe their crime as high treason, and to punish it as such, required by Roman law an imperial authority, by which alone the crime of lčse majesté (laesa majestas) could be judged. The immediate necessity for the security of Leo's personal safety and rule in Rome was, therefore, the sovereign power of the Roman Empire. Here, then, was the real motive for the coronation, and of its haste, which permitted only two days to elapse between the purgation of Leo by his oath and the imperial coronation of Charles the Great.5

The sequence of events confirms this theory of Leo's motive in crowning Charles. A few days after the coronation a trial of the conspirators was begun; the Emperor found them guilty of high treason, and condemned them to death. Not only the leaders but numerous prominent Roman citizens were included in the sentence. The long and vexatious opposition to Leo at Rome was thus crushed out, and he stood forth triumphant as complete master of the city.

With wise compassion, the victorious Pontiff, having thus destroyed bis enemies and established his authority, crowned his success by pleading with the Emperor to commute the sentence of death to banishment; and the condemned conspirators were sent away into exile. Although he was temperate in appealing to its exercise, the sovereign power of the Emperor was necessary for his purpose; for without it he could not legally have invoked the penalty of death or gained the great moral advantage of requesting clemency. As Patrician, Charles could not rightfully exercise the sovereign power, which belonged by Roman law solely to the Emperor. 6 Leo's triumph was, therefore, much more than a personal achievement, it was a victory of law over force; for he had not only revived the Empire to redress his wrongs, he had permanently based the security of the Papacy on respect for imperial authority.

While Rome was entering upon a state of calm and orderly existence under the rule of the new emperor, Constantinople was deeply excited by the formidable event which had occurred in the West; for the Byzantines saw in the coronation of Charles the advent of a new Caesar, who would soon claim his rights in the East. Invasion and occupation were likely to follow, since Charles had not merely established a new empire in the West, but had been crowned Emperor of the Romans in the largest sense. All the prerogatives of the Byzantine sovereigns were now expected to be claimed by him.

At Rome also, the whole Empire was regarded as having been transferred to Charles, but here the new order of things assumed the form of large responsibilities. One of the new emperor's first projects was the invasion of Sicily, but the vastness of the enterprise of subjecting to his rule the territories of the East became more impressive the more closely it was contemplated, and the programme of war was soon laid aside for that of diplomacy.

Although the Frankish chroniclers do not mention it, the Greek records prove that a marriage between Charles the Great and Irene was planned, by which "the East and the West should unite to form one Empire." 7 Such was the proposal which, in the spring of 802, the envoys of Charles bore to Constantinople. If the prospect of uniting the kingdom of the Franks with the Greek Empire by the marriage of Constantine VI and Rothrude had opened visions of greatness, this project was a dream of still greater glory; for the united territories of Charles and Irene would not only have far surpassed the widest limits of the old Roman Empire, but their united armies could have subdued the world.

The Byzantine Empress received with joy the prospect of not only conserving but augmenting her uncertain power, and we have pictures of her progress through the streets of her capital at Easter, 802, stretched upon a gilded car, drawn by four white horses guided by four patricians; while the faded beauty, happy in her dreams of glory, scattered largesses among the people, who applauded her as she passed by. But the eunuch Aëtius, who sought to raise his brother Leo to the imperial throne, had set his hand to the task of preventing this marriage, which would have changed the whole course of history. Old antagonisms were rekindled, new ambitions were inflamed, and the court was made to believe that Irene had recognized Charles through fear, and that he would prove a despotic master. The iconoclastic party, foreseeing in the supremacy of Charles the domination of the Papacy, lent its support to the logothete, Nicephorus; who, having obtained possession of the Empress through the treason of her guards, forced her to surrender to him her treasures, and sent her away to a monastery in the island of Lesbos, where, made ill by her misfortunes, she soon ended her unhappy life. Nicephorus, having served as the instrument of the revolution promoted by the iconoclasts, was then elevated by them to the throne.

Thus two new emperors at the same time laid claim to the Empire, one having been elevated to the imperial office to meet the political requirements of the Papacy, the other having usurped it to execute the vengeance and carry out the plans of the iconoclasts. As respects their personal merits, no comparison can be made between them. Charles the Great, born of a race of able rulers, and himself the ablest of them all, of lofty character and heroic temper, governing great nations in a spirit of justice by the force of his organizing power as a warrior and statesman, had won his place by virtue of his solid qualities as a ruler. Nicephorus, a rude soldier of fortune, of the lowest extraction, - said to have been descended from a swineherd, - promoted at court by palace intrigues, and borne into power by the tide of a revolutionary rising, in order that he might be the agent of religious persecution, possessed no attribute of moral greatness.

The right of Charles the Great to the imperial crown has, however, been called in question, while that of Nicephorus has passed without discussion. Since the transfer of the capital of the Empire from Rome, it was at Byzantium that the Imperial Senate had met and confirmed the appointment of new emperors. it is true, as Montesquieu long ago pointed out, that "all ways were good to succeed to the Empire," and the effective means were at different times the army, the clergy, the Senate, the people of Constantinople, and the inhabitants of other cities. 8 But the rôle of the Senate in the choice of an emperor was legally the important element; for, by whatever means a candidacy was initiated or promoted, it was to the Senate that even the usurpers looked for the confirmation which gave validity to their pretensions. Even Nicephorus I invoked and obtained the ratification of his usurpation by a letter addressed to the Senate although his reign was passed in a continual struggle with that body.9

It was maintained by Hugo Grotius that Charles the Great was legally elected to the Empire, on the ground that Rome continued to possess the ancient right of choosing an emperor. 10 Pufendorf affirmed that Charles the Great was elected emperor by the Romans, but denied the legality of the election, since the imperium had been transferred to Byzantium.11 The elaborate argument of Wilhelm Sickel to prove a legal election by the Romans cannot be regarded as conclusive; for it not only lacks documentary support, but reduces the requirements of legality to such a scanty minimum that it ceases to be a matter of importance.12

It is nevertheless certain that the Franks regarded Charles the Great as emperor "per electionem Romani populi" It is reported by a contemporary writer, that it seemed proper to a council, in which the leading men took part, that Charles should be named emperor. The reasons offered for this step are, that the King of the Franks already held in his possession Rome, - where emperors had been accustomed to reside, - as well as other places in Italy, Gaul, and Germany, "to whom God had granted them."13

Assured of the state of public opinion by the views expressed in the council, it was only necessary for Leo III to find a suitable occasion for eliciting an expression of the general will. This he found in the festivities in the basilica of St. Peter on Christmas day. Not even the conspirators are known to have questioned the imperial rights of Charles, which were based upon the popular will more than upon the authority possessed by the Pope. Conferred by the whole people, -"universo christiano popolo" - those rights could not be disputed. The election of Charles was certainly not in accordance with Byzantine forms; but no monarch ever mounted a throne more secure, and no human imperium ever had a more solid foundation.

At heart a faithful Catholic, it probably became easier for the Emperor to accept the title, "Crowned by God," as he realized the nature of his work in the accomplishment of the great tasks that were before him. The manner in which he set about the reorganization of his realm indicates that he came to perceive in that startling scene in St Peter's basilica an inspiration of Divine Providence, and to believe that he was, indeed, called of God to rule over the nations of Christendom as the old emperors had ruled over the Roman world. In this conviction all Western Europe joined, and thus the memories of the imperial past were blended with the sanctities of a believing age in the aureole of earthly glory with which the popular imagination invested the person of the Emperor.

Recrossing the Alps, Charles required a new oath of allegiance from his subjects, both lay and ecclesiastic, by which they swore fidelity to him as emperor. This oath was given a special sanctity, for it marked the founding of an almost theocratic government, in which the Emperor became not only the administrator of law, but the guardian of morality and religion. Thenceforth, allegiance to the Emperor involved a solemn personal pledge to live in obedience to God and to abstain from all immorality and pagan practices. The Frankish monarchy had begun in a rule of barbaric force. It had culminated in a reign of religion and enlightenment; for Charles the Great was a diligent student, a patron of learning, and a founder of schools, as well as the champion of the Christian faith. The noblest ideas of his age were fully realized in the conception of the mission which he endeavored to carry into execution by the establishment of a "Holy Roman Empire."

The principal task of the Empire, as conceived by the mind of that age, was the protection of the Church, and, in particular, of the Papacy. The union of human force, as embodied in the power of Charles the Great, and divine truth, as represented by the Holy See, appeared to be the most fitting system for the maintenance of justice and virtue upon the earth. The devotion of Charles the Great to the consummation of his high mission was the justification of this splendid experiment. But the new régime possessed a character different from any which had hitherto existed in the world.

In the time of Constantine the Great, the Papacy had not acquired its distinctive character; but when Charles the Great was crowned emperor, it had become an international institution of first importance. The treaties which the Frankish kings had made with the popes had guaranteed to them the royal protection. These treaties were intended to be of a permanent nature, and Charles the Great loyally accepted and observed all the obligations which the engagements of Pippin had assumed. When the Frankish king became the Roman Emperor, all these obligations were still continued, and relations which were originally international in their nature thus became elements of the imperial constitution.

The results of this transformation are deeply significant for the history of Europe. A foreign alliance had become a constitutional partnership, for the attributes of a royal protector and a papal protége were now merged in the administration of an empire theoretically universal. The relations of these two forces - both unlimited in their nature and supreme in theory - were undefined, and, in the consciousness of that time, indefinable. The attempt to define them was to be the main task of succeeding centuries, and the problem still remains unsolved.

Notwithstanding the wise use which Charles the Great made of the circumstances which surrounded him, they contained the seeds of discord and controversy which were to produce a bitter harvest for future times. "Was not the imperial crown bestowed by the Pope, and is not he who confers greater than he who receives?" Such were the questions with which the Papacy was, later, to open that fierce debate by which Europe was shaken to its foundations. If the answers to these questions were in the affirmative, there was no escape from the conclusion that the Pope possessed the power to crown and uncrown kings and emperors. If, on the other hand, the Empire affirmed its own inherent supremacy, and treated the office of the Pope as of subordinate importance; upon what foundation, other than that of superior force, could it base its pretensions over the peoples and rulers who, as rebels or as rivals, might set up their own independence and autocracy?

The embarrassment of the civil authority in extricating itself from the dilemma in which fortuitous circumstances had placed it was deep and lasting. When the Empire attempted to declare its independence of the Papacy, not only had historical events imparted plausibility to the papal claims of supremacy, but the Empire could offer no alternative justification for its being and authority other than the assumption that it expressed the direct will of Heaven, without relation to the Papacy, which claimed to be Heaven's sole interpreter. The weakness of this theory was, that it could not maintain its exclusive character; for every actual ruler could present the same theoretical claim to divine authority;-and thus was developed the dogma of the divine right of kings. Recourse to the true origin of the Empire, - the sovereignty of the people, - as a justification of its authority, had by that time become seriously embarrassed by dynastic pretensions which tended to substitute the principle of inheritance for that of election.

But, if the new relations between the Empire and the Papacy were to prove in later times an embarrassment for the temporal power, a far greater misfortune had fallen upon the spiritual. The Papacy had, indeed, after more than two centuries of struggle and tragedy, found a capable protector in the person of Charles the Great; but the fact that the Pope had become dependent upon the protection of the Emperor was in the future to cause the suppression of papal autonomy and a perversion of spiritual powers to merely personal and political ends, to which they were destined to be made subservient One after another, the mail-clad warriors who were able to subdue the feudal barons of Germany to their over lordship were to cross the Alps, to wring from the hands of the bishops of Rome the doubtful honor of the imperial crown; and, in default of obsequious compliance, the throne of St. Peter was to be filled with more willing instruments of their ambition.

Still, for the age in which it was accomplished, the restoration of the Empire was undoubtedly a blessing. The men of that time did not make the distinctions which were magnified to such proportions when, in a later period, opposing theories of the Holy Roman Empire were invented to support conflicting claims. For that age, the partnership of the Papacy and the Frankish monarchy was the coequal union of the spiritual and temporal powers of Christendom in one divinely appointed scheme of human government. The antagonism inherent in the dual headship of Western Christendom was for a time not apparent, but a kingdom not of this world and a feudal empire could not long subsist in the same system without disclosing their antinomies. The efforts to evade their contradictions by mere temporary expedients fill a large space in the history of diplomacy.

1. The words of Einhard are: Quo tempore imperatoris et augtisti nomen accepit. Quod primo in tantum aversatus est, ut adfirmaret se eo die ecclesiam non intraturum, si pontificis oonsilium praescire potuisset. See Vita Caroli, c. 28, in Jaffé, Monumenta Carolina, and in Mon. Germ. Hist., Scriptores, II, p.458.

2. Many Italian writers base their whole theory of the revival of the Empire upon a bargain between Pope Leo III and Charles the Great at Paderborn, in which it is supposed to have been arranged that Charles should rescue Leo from bis enemies in exchange for the imperial crown. See Muratori, Annali d'Italia; La Farina, Storia d'Italia; and Balbo, Il regno di Carlomagno in Italia. Even Gregorovius, Geschichte der Stadt Rom, gives some credit to this story. Barbiellini-Amidei, Una nuova pagina della Storia d'Italia, Rome, 1904, p. 364 et seq., - regardless both of evidence and chronology, - represents Leo III as endeavoring to carry out his pledge at Paderborn by a marriage between Charles and the Empress Irene, which Charles, "circondato di quattro concubine," is represented as repudiating, leaving Leo in embarrassment as to the manner in which he should obtain the crown for Charles. The scene in St. Peter's Church on Christmas day, 800, - according to this theory, - was the fulfilment of this agreement.
The contradiction between this story and the declaration of Charles recorded by Einhard is explained by those who accept this theory with the statement that the declaration of Charles was hypocritical and made only for effect. Unfortunately for this theory, John Diaconus wrote more than a hundred years after the event, cites no contemporary authority for his statement, and shows an ignorance of the time of which he writes that discredits his testimony. The story is probably nothing more than a Lombard invention.

3. This idea, originated by Lorentz in his Leben Alcuins, has been refuted by Döllinger, Das Kaiserthum, p. 344. Waitz and Ranke, who had accepted it, adopted the correction in later editions.

4. The visitor to Rome may see in the open tribune near the Scala Santa copies of these mosaics restored by Pope Clement XII, in 1743, from ancient drawings. See Baedeker's Central Italy and Rome, edition of 1904, p. 311.

5. The view here adopted is that of Gasquet, L'Empire byzantin, p. 281, and Ranke, Weltgeschichte
, vol. V, 2, pp. 183-187. It has been fully elaborated by Sackur, Ein römischer Majestätsprozess und die Kaiserkrönung Karl, des Grossen, Historische Zeitschrift, Neue Folge, Band LI, 1901, P. 385 et seq. The criticism of Ohr, Die Kaiser krönung, pp. 125-127, does not seem to be conclusive against this view.

6. The proof of this is given by Sackur. The statement of Ohr, that the Prefect of the city had sometimes exercised this prerogative (see pp. 127, 128, note) must be qualified by the consideration that his authority was not inherent in his office, but only delegated by a sovereign power. He was probably at the time, the year 800, appointed by the Pope; but what Leo needed was an authority superior to his own. If hostile, the Prefect could defeat the Pope's will; if merely his creature, he would add nothing to his authority. It was unquestioned imperial authority that was needed, supported by the force to render it effective.

7.The text of Theophanes, Chronographia, Bonn, 1883, p. 737, on which this statement is based, may be found in Richter, Annalen, II Abt., erste Hälfte, p. 153, together with a discussion of the embassy. "An der Thatsache zu zweifeln, ist man trotz des Schweigens der fränkischen Annalen kaum berechtigt; daher haben auch fast alle neueren Forscher diese Nachricht als glaubwürdig verwertet." See in criticism, however, Ohr, Die Kaiserkrönung, p. 102.

8. "Toutes les voies furent bonnes pour parvenir á l'empire; on y alla par les soldata, par le clergé, par le sénat, par les paysans, par le peuple de Constantinople, par celui de. autres villes." - Grandeur et décadence des romains, chap. 21.

9. On the general usage, see Lécrivain, Le Sénat romain, p. 231 et seq., who says: "L'usurpateur Nicéphore invoque par lettre l'appui du sénat et l'obtient" (p. 232); and adds, "Nicéphore Ier lutte pendant tout son rčgne contre l'hostilité du sénat" (p. 234).

10. Grotius, De Jure Belli ac Pacis, Amsterdam, 1712, IX, 11.

11. Pufendorf, De Statu Imperii Germanici, Frankfort, 1667, Section 12.

12. W. Sickel, Die Kaiserwahl Karls des Grossen, In the Mittheilungen de. Institute für österreichische Geschichtaforschung, Band XX, 1899, p. 1 et seq.; and Die Kaiserkrönungen von Karl bis Berengar, in the Historische Zeitschrift, Neue Folge, Band XLVII, 1899, p. 1 et seq.

13. The attempt of Ohr to show that the coronation and acclamation of Charles were the work of a small clique of Pope Leo's friends only cannot be pronounced successful. It not only contradicts the general documentary testimony to the unanimity of the Romans in acclaiming Charles, but it overlooks the fact that there were motives other than friendship for the Pope for the acceptance of Charles as emperor.
The discovery that the formula of acclamation was part of an ancient and well known hymn of salutation, as shown by Ohr, Die Kaiserkrönung, pp. 63.-72, by no means proves that the acclamation of the Romans was not an expression of their political will. Certainly, it was not a formal election, but it conveyed none the less distinctly the assent of the Romans to Leo's nomination of Charles. That the programme was probably previously arranged, and that the secret purpose of the Pope to crown the King as emperor was confided to only a few persons, does not detract from the significance of the event. The time and place of the coronation were the most public possible in Rome, - the celebration of Christmas day in the great basilica, where it was expected that Charles would be present. The assumption that only a clique of Pope Leo's friends assisted upon that occasion is, therefore, as improbable as it is unsupported by documentary evidence.


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