MPIRE [ch.16]


adapter from Walker, 4.3-4.6

[16.1] The Franks and The Papacy; [16.2.] Charlemagne; [16.3] Ecclesiastical Institutions; [16.4.] Collapsing Empire and Rising Papacy







It has already been pointed out  that the papacy, and Italy generally, opposed the iconoclastic efforts of the Emperor Leo III, going so far as to excommunicate the opponents of icons in a Roman synod held under Gregory III, in 731. The Emperor answered by removing southern Italy and Sicily from papal jurisdiction, and placing these regions under the see of Constantinople—a matter long a thorn in the side of the papacy. In Rome and northern Italy the imperial power exercised from Constantinople was too feeble to control papal action. The imperial representative was the exarch of Ravenna, under whom stood a duke of Rome for military affairs, though the Pope was in many respects the Emperor’s representative in the civil concerns of the city. The papacy was now in practical rebellion against the rulers who had their seat in Constantinople. It was, however, in a most dangerous position. The Lombards were pressing, and were threatening the capture of Rome. The disunion consequent on the iconoclastic dispute made it necessary, if the papacy was to maintain any considerable independence in Rome, to find other protection against the Lombards than that of the Emperor. This the Popes sought, and at last obtained, from the Franks.

REVIEW of 15.2 on the Merovingians and Early Carolingians

  Frankish Church and Rulers

    With the conversion of Clovis to orthodox Christianity (496), a close relationship of church and state began in the Frankish dominions. To a large extent it was true that Frankish conquest and Christianization were two sides of the same shield.

Baptism of Clovis (Amiens, 9th cent) Baptism of Clovis (14th cent)

Under the descendants of Clovis—the Merovingian Kings—the internal condition of the Frankish church sank, however, to a low ebb. Bishops and abbots were appointed for political considerations, much church land was confiscated or put in secular hands. Even the efforts of Gregory I to gain more effective papal control in France and to effect reform had little lasting result.

    The political collapse of the Merovingians, led to the rise to power of the Carolingian house, originally “mayors of the palace,” which was accomplished when Pippin, called, not wholly correctly, of Heristal, won the battle of Tertry in 687. The Merovingian Kings continued in name, but the real authority was exercised by Pippin as “duke of the Franks.”

Franks Battle Saracens Chares Martel Receives a Message

After his death in 714, his illegitimate son Charles Martel (715-741) exercised all the powers of a King. By him the Mohammedan advance in western Europe was permanently stayed, by the great battle between Tours and Poitiers in 732. He saw the advantage of churchly aid, and supported missionary effort in western Germany and the Netherlands, where he wished to ex tend his political control. Yet neither Pippin “of Heristal” nor Charles Martel were more helpful to the church of their own territories than the Merovingians. They exploited it for political reasons, secularized its lands, and did little to check its disorders. Nevertheless, under Charles Martel a great missionary and reformatory work was initiated that was to Christianize large sections of western Germany, reform the Frankish church, and bring the papacy and the Franks into relations of the utmost consequence to both.




  Coronation of Pippin [16.1a]



IN 739 Pope Gregory III appealed to Charles Martel (c.688-741), [the son of Pippin of Herstal, (c.635-714)] for aid against the Lombards, but in vain. Charles had defeated the Umayyad (Muslim) invasion of France/Gaul at the Battle of Tours in 732.

WITH Charles' son and successor, Pippin the Short, it was otherwise. He was more ecclesiastically minded, and greater plans than even his father had entertained now moved him. Pippin and the papacy could be of mutual assistance each to the other. The new Lombard King, Aistulf (749-756), conquered Ravenna from the Emperor in 751 and was grievously pressing Rome itself. Pippin desired the kingly title as well as the kingly power in France. He had determined upon a revolution which should relegate the last of the feeble Merovingians, Childeric III, to a monastery, and place Pippin himself on the throne. For this change he desired not only the approval of the Frankish nobility, but the moral sanction of the church. He appealed to Pope Zacharias (741-752), [posing the following question:

[In regard to the kings of the Franks who no longer possess the royal power: is this state of things proper?

The Pope replied that such a state of things is not proper: the de facto power is more important than the de jure power.]




The Pope’s approval was promptly granted, and before the close of 751, Pippin was formally in the kingly office.  To this he was anointed and crowned, but whether by Boniface, as has usually been supposed, is uncertain.[Childeric was tonsured and consigned to the Benedictine monastery of St. Bertin.]

    This transaction, which seems to have been simple at the time, was fraught with the most far-reaching consequences. From it might be drawn the conclusion that it was within the Pope’s power to give and withhold kingdoms. All unseen in it, were wrapped up the re-establishment of the empire in the West, the Holy Roman Empire, and that interplay of papacy and empire which forms so large a part of the history of the Middle Ages. From this point of view it was the most important event of mediaeval history.



  From Exarchate to Papal States [States of the Church]  [16.1b]



If the Pope could thus help Pippin, the latter could be no less serviceable to the Pope. Aistulf and his Lombards continued to press Rome. Stephen II, therefore, went to Pippin himself, crowning and anointing Pippin and his sons afresh in the church of St. Denis near Paris, in 754, and confirming to them the indefinite title of “Patricians of the Romans—all the more useful, perhaps, because implying a relation to Rome that was wholly undefined. It had been borne by the imperial exarch in Ravenna.

    Soon after this crowning, Pippin fulfilled his reciprocal obligation. At the head of a Frankish army, late in 754, or early in 755, he invaded Italy and compelled Aistulf to agree to surrender to the Pope Ravenna and the other recent Lombard conquests.

     A second campaign, in 756, was necessary before the Lombard King made good his promise. The Exarchate of which Ravenna was the capital and the Pentapolis were now the possessions of the Pope.

The “States of the Church” were begun—that temporal sovereignty of the papacy which was to last till 1870.

Yet, as far as can now be judged, in thus granting the Exarchate to Pope Stephen, Pippin regarded himself as overlord. Rome itself, Pippin did not give to the Pope. It was not his to give. Legally, the status of Rome would have been hard to define. Though the Popes had practically broken with the Emperor at Constantinople, Rome had not been conquered from him.

     Indeed the papacy recognized the sovereignty of the Eastern Emperor in the style of its public documents till 772. Pippin had the wholly nebulous rights that might be included in the title “Patrician of the Romans.” Actually, Rome was in the possession of the Pope.

The Donation of Constantine  [16.1c]

    Though the Pope was thus now a territorial ruler, the extent of his possessions was far from satisfying papal ambition, if one may judge by a curious forgery, the authorship of which is unknown, but which seems to date from this period—the so-called “Donation of Constantine.” [1]

The Donation of Constantine

 In charter form, and with an expression of a creed, and a fabulous account of his conversion and baptism, Constantine ordered all ecclesiastics to be subject to Pope Sylvester and successive occupants of the Roman see, and transferred to them “the city of Rome and all the provinces, districts, and cities of Italy or of the Western regions.” This meant a sovereignty over the Western half of the empire—at least an overlordship. Discredited by a few of the wiser men of the Middle Ages, the “Donation” was generally believed, till its falsity was demonstrated by Nicholas of Cues in 1433 and Lorenzo Valla in 1440.







Pippin the Short died in 768. A strong ruler, his fame has been unduly eclipsed by that of his greater son, who, in general, simply carried further what the father had begun. Pippin had divided his kingdom between his two sons, Charles and Carloman. Ill will existed between the brothers, but the situation was relieved by the death of Carloman in 771. With that event the real reign of Charles, to whom the world has so ascribed the title “Great” as to weave it indissolubly with his name—Charlemagne—began.

    Charlemagne, perhaps more than any other sovereign in history, was head over all things to his age. A warrior of great gifts, he more than doubled his father’s possessions. When he died his sway ruled all of modern France, Belgium, and Holland, nearly half of modern Germany and Austria-Hungary, more than half of Italy, and a bit of northeastern Spain. It was nearer imperial size than anything that had been seen since the downfall of the Western Roman Empire. Conquest was but part of his work. His armies, by extending the frontier, gave rest and time for consolidation to the central portion of his territories. He was the patron of learning, the kindly master of the church, the preserver of order, to whom nothing seemed too small for attention or too great for execution.

    A quarrel with Desiderius, King of the Lombards, resulted in the conquest and extinction of that kingdom by Charlemagne in two campaigns in the years 774 to 777. Pippin’s grants to the papacy were renewed, but the situation was practically altered. The papacy was no longer separated as it had been from the main Frankish territories by the intervening Lombard kingdom. Charlemagne’s connection with Rome was a much more effective overlordship than that of his father, and he thenceforth treated the Pope as the chief prelate of his realm, rather than as an independent power, though he did not go so far as to dictate the choice of the Popes, as he did that of the bishops of his kingdom.



Highly important for the extension of Christianity was Charlemagne’s conquest of the Saxons, then occupying what is now northwestern Germany—a result achieved only after a series of campaigns lasting from 772 to 804. His forcible imposition of Christianity was made permanent by the more peaceful means of planting bishoprics and monasteries throughout the Saxon land. By this conversion the last considerable Germanic tribe, and one of the most gifted and energetic, was brought into the Christian family of Europe to its permanent advantage. Frisia, also, now became a wholly Christian land. Charlemagne’s contests with the rebellious duke, Tassilo, of already Christianized Bavaria, led not only to the full absorption of the Bavarian bishoprics in the Frankish ecclesiastical system, but to successful wars against the Avars and the extension of Christianity into much of what is now Austria.


  Charlemagne Crowned Emperor [16.2a]



SUCH a ruler, devoted equally to the extension of political power and of Christianity, and controlling the greater part of Western Christendom, was, indeed, a figure of imperial proportions. It is not surprising, therefore, that Pope Leo III (795-816), who was greatly indebted to Charlemagne for protection from disaffected Roman nobles, placed on the head of the Frankish King the Roman imperial crown as the latter knelt in St. Peter’s Church on Christmas day, 800.

[Relatives of the former Pope, Adrian, fearful of Frankish interference - which Leo encouraged - had tried to render Leo unfit for office by attacking him and (unsuccessfully) attempting to tear out his tongue and eyes.  Injured but intact, Leo had fled to Charlemagne in Paderborn, who received him graciously and returned with Leo to Rome where Leo was vindicated and his enemies exiled]

Attempted Blinding and Maiming of Pope Leo III Rescued Pope Leo III Crowns Charlemagne

To the thinking of the Roman populace who applauded, as to the West generally, it was the restoration of the empire to the West, that had for centuries been held by the ruler in Constantinople. It placed Charlemagne in the great succession from Augustus. It gave a theocratic stamp to that empire. Unexpected, and not wholly welcome at the time to Charlemagne, it was the visible embodiment of a great ideal. The Roman Empire, men thought, had never died, and now God’s consecration had been given to a Western Emperor by the hands of His representative. It was not, necessarily, a rejection of the imperial title of the ruler in Constantinople. The later empire had frequently seen two Emperors, East and West. Leo V (813-820), the Emperor in Constantinople, later, formally recognized the imperial title of his Western colleague. For the West and for the papacy the coronation was of the utmost consequence. It raised questions of imperial power and of papal authority that were to be controverted throughout the Middle Ages. It emphasized the feeling that church and state were but two sides of the same shield, the one leading man to temporal happiness, the other to eternal blessedness, and both closely related and owing mutual helpfulness. It made more evident than ever the deep-seated religious and political cleavage between East and West. To the great Emperor himself it seemed the fulfilment of the dream of Augustine’s City of God —the union of Christendom in a kingdom of God, of which he was the earthly head. His power was never greater than when he died, in 814.



  Learning Revived Under Charlemagne [16.2b]



    At Charlemagne’s accession no schools were so flourishing in Western Europe as those to be found in connection with the monasteries of the British Islands. It was from England that this many-sided monarch procured his chief intellectual and literary assistant. Alcuin (735?-804) was probably a native, and certainly a student of York. From 781 to his death, with some interruptions, he was Charlemagne’s main aid in a real renaissance of classical and Biblical learning, that rendered the reign bright compared with the years before, and raised the intellectual life of the Frankish state. Charlemagne himself, though without becoming much of a scholar, set the example as an occasional pupil in this “school of the palace.” In 796 Charlemagne made Alcuin the head of the monastery of St. Martin in Tours, which now became under his leadership a centre of learning for the whole Frankish realm. Others helped in this intellectual revival, like the Lombard, Paul the Deacon (720?-795), the Frank, Einhard (770?-840), or the Visigoth, Theodulf (760?-821). The mere mention of these various national relationships shows the care which Charlemagne exhibited to secure from any portion of Western Europe those who could raise the intellectual standards of his empire.

    With this growth of learning came theological discussion. The Spanish bishops, Elipandus of Toledo and Felix of Urgel, taught an adoptionist Christology—that Christ, though in His divine nature the Son of God, was in His human nature only a son by adoption. Under Charlemagne’s leadership these opinions were condemned in synods held in Regensburg (792) and Frankfort (794).

In this work Charlemagne regarded himself as the theological guide no less than the protector of the church. In similar fashion, at the synod of Frankfort just mentioned,

Charlemagne had the conclusions of the General Council of 787, in Nicæa, condemned, rejected its approval of icon reverence, and caused the Libri Carolini, defending his position, to be issued.

In 809, at a synod in Aachen, Charlemagne approved the Spanish addition filioque to the so-called Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed.

All these acts were in consultation with the bishops and theologians of his realm, but with no special deference to the Pope or reference of the matters to papal judgment.







    Roman political institutions were based on the cities, on which the surrounding country was dependent, and Christian organization followed the same rule. The country districts were dependent upon and were cared for by the city bishops and their appointees, save where, in the East, there were “country bishops.” The Germanic invasions altered this situation. By the sixth century the beginnings of the parish system were to be found in France. There it rapidly grew, and it was stimulated by the custom of the foundation of churches by large landowners.

The founders and their heirs retained the right of nominating the incumbent. This situation left episcopal control uncertain.

Charlemagne, therefore, provided that[:]

[1] besides the right of ordination of all parish priests,

[2] the bishop should have visitorial and disciplinary power throughout his diocese.

[3] The churchly status was further strengthened by the full legal establishment of tithes.

Long favored by the clergy through Old Testament example, they were demanded by a Prankish synod in Macon, in 585. By Pippin they were treated as a legal charge, and full legal sanction was given them by Charlemagne. They were to be collected not only by bishops, but by and for the use of the incumbent of each parish. Moreover, constant gifts of lands to the church had raised ecclesiastical possessions, by the time of the early Carolingians, to a third of the soil of France. The great holdings were a constant temptation in the financial need of a Charles Martel, who secularized much, but under the friendly government of Charlemagne they were respected, if earlier confiscations were not restored.

The chief agent of monastic reform and renewal during the reign of Charlemagne and his son Louis the Pious was Benedict of Aniane, an abbot and former-hermit who zealously championed the superiority of the Rule of St. Benedict (of Nursia).  Many Benedictine monasteries were founded by the Carolingian rulers, who made Benedict of Aniane a kind of inspector of both new monastic foundations and older communities. Under his influence the Rule of Benedict became the sole rule for Christian monasteries in the Latin-speaking West. The map below gives some idea of the monastic foundations made during the Carolingian period.

Monastic Foundations under Charlemagne

    Under Charlemagne, preaching was encouraged and books of sermons prepared. Confession was favored, though not-yet obligatory. Every Christian was expected to be able to repeat the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed.

 Metropolitans and Archbishops  [16.2a]

     Charlemagne renewed and extended the metropolitan system, which had fallen into abeyance. At the beginning of his reign there was but one metropolitan in the Frankish kingdom. At its end there were twenty-two. These were now generally known as archbishops—a title which goes back to the time of Athanasius, though long loosely used. In Carolingian theory the archbishop was the judge and disciplinary officer of the bishops of his province, possessed of powers which the growth of papal jurisdiction was soon to curtail. It was also his duty to call frequent synods to consider the religious problems of the archdiocese, or as it was usually styled, the province.

    For the better regulation of his immediate clerical assistants, Bishop Chrodegang of Metz introduced, about 760, a semi- monastic life in common, which was favored and spread by Charlemagne. From the designation of this life as the vita canonica, the name “canons” for the clergy attached to a cathedral or collegiate church arose. Their place of meeting was called the capitulum, or chapter—a title soon applied to the canons themselves. By this means the life and work of the bishop and his immediately associated clergy was largely regulated. Charlemagne himself designated the bishops of his realm.

    In all these changes, save that of personal authority over episcopal appointments, Charlemagne was but carrying further the reforms begun by Boniface. Much that he completed his father, Pippin, had commenced. At Charlemagne’s death, the Frankish church was in a far better state of education, discipline, and efficiency than it had been under the later Merovingians and early Carolingians.







  The Collapse of the Empire  [Creation of France and Germany]

    Charlemagne’s great power was personal. Scarcely had he died when the rapid decline of his empire began. His son and successor, Louis the Pious (814-840), was of excellent personal character, but wholly unequal to the task left by Charlemagne, or even to the control of his own sons, who plotted against him and quarrelled with one another. After his death they divided the empire between them by the Treaty of Verdun in 843.

[1] To Lothair (843-855) came Frankish Italy and a strip of territory including the valley of the Rhone and the region lying immediately west of the Rhine, together with the imperial title.

[2] To Louis (843-875) was given the region east of the Rhine, whence he acquired the nickname, “the German.”

[3] To Charles the Bald (843-877) came most of modern France and ultimately the imperial crown.



This Treaty of Verdun is usually regarded as the point whence France and Germany go their separate ways.


  Viking and Saracen Invasions [16.4a]

    These rulers proved utterly inadequate for unity or defense. France suffered grievously from attacks by the Scandinavian Normans, who pushed up its rivers and burned its towns, ultimately (911) establishing themselves permanently in Normandy. Italy was a prey to Saracen raids, in one of which (841) St. Peter’s itself, in Rome, was plundered. A little later, with the beginning of the tenth century, the raids of the Hungarians brought devastation to Germany and Italy.

Viking Dragon Ship Vikings Killing Christian

Under these circumstances, when national unity or defense was impossible, feudalism developed with great rapidity. Its roots run back to the declining days of the Roman Empire, but with the death of Charlemagne it was given great impetus. It was intensely divisive, substituting for any strong central government many local seats of authority, jealous one of another and engaged in constant struggle. Churches and monasteries became largely the prey of local nobles, or defended their rights with difficulty as parts of the feudal system. This social and political form of organization was to dominate Europe till the thirteenth century, and largely to make possible the growth of the mediæval papacy.

    The impulse given to learning by Charlemagne did not immediately die. At the court of Charles the Bald, John Scotus (?-877?), to whom the name Erigena was much later added, held somewhat the same position that Alcuin had occupied under Charlemagne. He translated the much admired writings of the Pseudo-Dionysius, and developed his own Neo- Platonic philosophy, which his age was too ignorant to judge heretical or orthodox. In Germany, Hrabanus Maurus (776 ?- 856), abbot of Fulda and archbishop of Mainz, a pupil of Alcuin, attained a deserved reputation as a teacher, commentator on the Scriptures, furtherer of clerical education and author of what was well-nigh an encyclopaedia. In Hincmar (805?-882), archbishop of Rheims, France possessed not only a prelate of great assertiveness and influence, but a theological controversialist of decided gift.


    The renewed study of Augustine which this intellectual revival effected led to two doctrinal controversies.

[1] The first was regarding the nature of Christ’s presence in the Supper. About 831 Paschasius Radbertus, a monk of the monastery of Corbie, near Amiens, of remarkable learning in Greek as well as in Latin theology, set forth the first thoroughgoing treatise on the Lord’s Supper, De corpora et sanguine Domini. In it he taught with Augustine, that only those who partake in faith receive the virtue of the sacrament, and with the Greeks, that it is the food of immortality; and also, that by divine miracle the substance is made the very body and blood of Christ. That was transubstantiation, though the word was not to be coined before the twelfth century. To Radbertus, Hrabanus Maurus replied; but a more elaborate answer was that of a fellow monk of Corbie, Ratramnus, about 844. Yet his view agreed in much with that of Radbertus. The body and blood of Christ are mysteriously present; yet they are not identical with the body that suffered on the cross. The controversy was not decided at the time, but the future, in the Roman Church, was with Radbertus.

[2] The second controversy was aroused by Gottschalk (808?- 868?). A monk of Fulda, made so by parental dedication, his efforts for release from his bonds were frustrated by Hrabanus Maurus. He then turned to the study of Augustine, and his hard fate, perhaps, led him to emphasize a double divine predestination—to life or to death. He was attacked by Hrabanus Maurus and Hincmar, but found vigorous defenders. Condemned as a heretic at a synod in Mainz in 848, he spent the next twenty years in monastic imprisonment, persecuted by Hincmar, and refusing to retract. The controversy was a fresh flaring up of the old dispute between thoroughgoing Augustinianism and the semi-Pelagianism which was the actual theory of a large portion of the church.

    As the collapse of Charlemagne’s empire grew more complete, however, these controversies and the intellectual life out of which they sprang faded.

By 900 a renewed barbarism had largely extinguished the light which had shone brightly a century before.

One great exception to this general condition existed.

In England, Alfred the Great (871-901?), distinguished as the successful opponent of the Danish conquerors, in a spirit like that of Charlemagne gathered learned men about him, and encouraged the education of the clergy.


  The Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals  [Rome's Universal Jurisdiction ca. 847-852 [16.4c]


    The collapsing empire of Charlemagne led to the rise of a churchly party in France, which despairing of help from the state, looked toward the papacy as the source of unity and hope. This party regarded with suspicion also any control of the church by the sovereigns or nobility, and it represented the jealousy of the ordinary bishops and lower clergy toward the great archbishops with their often arbitrary assertions of authority, of whom Hincmar was a conspicuous example. The aim of the movement was not the exaltation of the papacy for its own sake; rather its exaltation as a means of checking secular control and that of the archbishops, and of maintaining ecclesiastical unity. From this circle, between 847 and 852, and probably from Hincmar’s own region of Rheims, came one of the most remarkable of forgeries—the so-called Pseudo- Isidorian Decretals—purporting to be collected by a certain Isidore Mercator, by whom Isidore of Seville and Marius Mercator were doubtless intended. It consisted of decisions of Popes and councils from Clement of Rome in the first century to Gregory II in the eighth, part genuine and part forged. The “Donation of Constantine” is included.

[1] The early Popes therein claim for themselves supreme jurisdiction.

[2] All bishops may appeal directly to papal authority.

[3] Intervening archiepiscopal rights are limited,

[4]and neither papacy nor bishops are subject to secular control.

With its origin the papacy had nothing to do; but it was to be used mightily to the furtherance of papal claims. The age was uncritical. It passed immediately as genuine, and was not exposed till the Reformation had awakened historical study.



  PAPACY ADVANCED by NICHOLAS I (The Great, 858-867) [16.4d]



WITH the decline of imperial power, the independence of the papacy rapidly rose. The Popes showed themselves the strongest men in Italy. Leo IV (847-855), aided by south Italian cities, defeated the Saracens and surrounded the quarter of St. Peter’s in Rome with a wall—the “Leonine City.” In Nicholas I  ["The Great"] (858-867) the Roman see had its ablest and most assertive occupant between Gregory the Great and Hildebrand. He sketched out a programme of papal claims, hardly surpassed later, but which the papacy was to be centuries in achieving. Nicholas attempted to realize the ideals of Augustine’s City of God. In his thought[:]

[1] the church is superior to all earthly powers,

[2] the ruler of the whole church is the Pope,

[3] and the bishops are his agents.

These conceptions he was able to make effective in two notable cases, in which he had also the advantage of choosing the side on which right lay.

[1] The first was that of Thietberga, the injured wife of Lothair II of Lorraine. Divorced that that sovereign might marry his concubine, Waldrada, she appealed to Nicholas, who declared void the sanctioning decision of a synod held in Metz, in 863, and excommunicated the archbishops of Trier and Cologne who had supported Lothair. The Pope had defended helpless womanhood, he none the less humbled two of the most powerful German prelates and thwarted a German ruler.

[2] In the second case, Nicholas received the appeal of the deposed Bishop Rothad of Soissons, who had been removed by the overbearing Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims, and forced his restoration. Here Nicholas appeared as the protector of the bishops against their metropolitans and the defender of their right to appeal to the Pope as the final judge. In this quarrel the Pseudo- Isidorian Decretals were first employed in Rome.


  [Disastrous and Ineffective Intervention in Eastern Church Politics] [16.4d]


IN a third case, Nicholas, though having right on his side, was less successful. The Emperor in Constantinople, Michael III, “the Drunkard,” was ruled by his uncle, Bardas, a man of unsavory reputation. The patriarch, Ignatius, refused Bardas the sacrament, and was deposed. In his place, Bardas procured the appointment of one of the most learned men of the later Greek world, Photius (patriarch 858-867, 878-886), then a layman. Ignatius, thus injured, appealed to Nicholas, who sent legates to Constantinople. They joined in approval of Photius.

The Great]

The Drunkard

The Great

The Pope repudiated their action, and, in 863, declared Photius deposed.

Photius (called The Great by Orthodox Christians) now accused the Western Church of heresy for[:]

[1] admitting the filioque clause to the creed,

[2] fasting on Saturdays,

[3] using milk, butter, and cheese in Lent,

[4] demanding priestly celibacy, and

[5] confining confirmation to the bishops.

At a synod under his leadership in Constantinople, in 867, the Pope was condemned.

Nicholas failed in his attempt to exercise his authority over the Eastern Church. The ill feeling between East and West was but augmented, which was to lead, in 1054, to the complete separation of the churches.


Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ no [one] can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors. Did not the ancestors of those who are now entangled in the errors of Photius and the reformers, obey the Bishop of Rome, the chief shepherd of souls?

Pope Pius XI, (Encycl. Mortalium Animos - On Religious Unity, Jan 6, 1928)


  Missions in Europe [16.4f]


    During this period following the death of Charlemagne important missionary efforts were begun. Ansgar (801 ?-865), a monk of Corbie, entered Denmark in 826, but was driven out the next year. In 829 and 830 he labored in Sweden. In 831 he was appointed archbishop of the newly constituted see of Hamburg, with prospective missionary jurisdiction over Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The destruction of Hamburg by the Danes, in 845, resulted in Ansgar’s removal to Bremen, which was united ecclesiastically with Hamburg. Ansgar’s efforts were backed by no Frankish military force, and his patient labors accomplished little. The full Christianization of Scandinavia was yet in the future.

    Larger success attended missions in the East. The Bulgars, originally a Turanian people, from eastern Russia, had conquered a large territory in the Balkan region in the seventh century, and, in turn, had adopted the manners and speech of their Slavic subjects. Under their King, Boris (852-884), Christianity was introduced, Boris being baptized in 864. For some time undecided between Constantinople and Rome, Boris finally chose spiritual allegiance to the former, since the patriarch of Constantinople was willing to recognize a self- governing Bulgarian church. This adhesion was of immense consequence in determining the future growth of the Greek Church in Eastern Europe. The most celebrated missionaries among the Slavs were, however, the brothers Cyril (?-869) and Methodius (?-885). Natives of Thessalonica, they had attained high position in the Eastern empire. On the request of Rostislav, duke of Moravia, the Eastern Emperor, Michael III, sent the brothers thither in 864. There they labored with great success. A struggle of several years between the papacy and Constantinople for possession of this new-won territory resulted in the ultimate victory of Rome. The use of a Slavic liturgy was permitted by Pope John VIII (872-882), though soon withdrawn, but from this source its worship came ultimately to the Russian church. From Moravia, Christianity in its Roman form came to Bohemia about the close of the ninth century.


[1] Henderson, Select Historical Documents, pp. 319-329.


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