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Chapter 3


Beginning of the greatness of the pontiffs in Italy--Abuse of
censures and indulgences--The pope applies to Pepin, king of
France, for assistance--Donation of Pepin to the pontiff--
Charlemagne--End of the kingdom of the Lombards--The title of
cardinal begins to be used--The empire passes to the Germans--
Berengarius, duke of Fruili, created king of Italy--Pisa becomes
great--Order and division of the states of Italy--Electors of the
emperor created.

In these times the popes began to acquire greater temporal authority
than they had previously possessed; although the immediate successors
of St. Peter were more reverenced for the holiness of their lives, and
the miracles which they performed; and their example so greatly
extended the Christian religion, that princes of other states embraced
it, in order to obviate the confusion which prevailed at that period.
The emperor having become a Christian and returned to Constantinople,
it followed, as was remarked at the commencement of the book, that the
Roman empire was the more easily ruined, and the church more rapidly
increased her authority. Nevertheless, the whole of Italy, being
subject either to the emperors or the kings till the coming of the
Lombards, the popes never acquired any greater authority than what
reverence for their habits and doctrine gave them. In other respects
they obeyed the emperors or kings; officiated for them in their
affairs, as ministers or agents, and were even sometimes put to death
by them. He who caused them to become of more importance in the
affairs of Italy, was Theodoric, king of the Goths, when he
established the seat of his empire at Ravenna; for, Rome being without
a prince, the Romans found it necessary, for their safety, to yield
obedience to the pope; his authority, however, was not greatly
increased thereby, the only advantage being, that the church of Rome
was allowed to take precedence of that of Ravenna. But the Lombards
having taken possession, and Italy being divided into many parts, the
pope had an opportunity of greater exertion. Being as it were the head
of Rome, both the emperor of Constantinople and the Lombards respected
him; so that the Romans, by his means, entered into league with the
Lombards, and with Longinus, not as subjects, but as equals. Thus the
popes, at one time friends of the Greeks, and at another of the
Lombards, increased their own power; but upon the ruin of the eastern
empire, which occurred during the time of Heraclius, their influence
was reduced; for the Sclavi, of whom we spoke before, again assailed
Illyria, and having occupied the country, named it Sclavonia, after
themselves; and the other parts were attacked by the Persians, then by
the Saracens under Mohammed, and lastly by the Turks, who took Syria,
Africa, and Egypt. These causes induced the reigning pope, in his
distress, to seek new friends, and he applied to the king of France.
Nearly all the wars which the northern barbarians carried on in Italy,
it may be here remarked, were occasioned by the pontiffs; and the
hordes, with which the country was inundated, were generally called in
by them. The same mode of proceeding still continued, and kept Italy
weak and unsettled. And, therefore, in relating the events which have
taken place from those times to the present, the ruin of the empire
will be no longer illustrated, but only the increase of the
pontificate and of the other principalities which ruled Italy till the
coming of Charles VIII. It will be seen how the popes, first with
censures, and afterward with these and arms, mingled with indulgences,
became both terrible and venerable; and how, from having abused both,
they ceased to possess any influence, and were wholly dependent on the
will of others for assistance in their wars.

But to return to the order of our narration. Gregory III. occupied the
papacy, and the kingdom of the Lombards was held by Astolphus, who,
contrary to agreement, seized Ravenna, and made war upon the pope. On
this account, Gregory no longer relying upon the emperor of
Constantinople, since he, for the reasons above given, was unable to
assist him, and unwilling to trust the Lombards, for they had
frequently broken their faith, had recourse to Pepin II., who, from
being lord of Austria and Brabant, had become king of France; not so
much by his own valor as by that of Charles Martel, his father, and
Pepin his grandfather; for Charles Martel, being governor of the
kingdom, effected the memorable defeat of the Saracens near Tours,
upon the Loire, in which two hundred thousand of them are said to have
been left dead upon the field of battle. Hence, Pepin, by his father's
reputation and his own abilities, became afterward king of France. To
him Pope Gregory, as we have said, applied for assistance against the
Lombards, which Pepin promised to grant, but desired first to see him
and be honored with his presence. Gregory accordingly went to France,
passing uninjured through the country of his enemies, so great was the
respect they had for religion, and was treated honorably by Pepin, who
sent an army into Italy, and besieged the Lombards in Pavia. King
Astolphus, compelled by necessity, made proposals of peace to the
French, who agreed to them at the entreaty of the pope--for he did not
desire the death of his enemy, but that he should be converted and
live. In this treaty, Astolphus promised to give to the church all the
places he had taken from her; but the king's forces having returned to
France, he did not fulfill the agreement, and the pope again had
recourse to Pepin, who sent another army, conquered the Lombards, took
Ravenna, and, contrary to the wishes of the Greek emperor, gave it to
the pope, with all the places that belonged to the exarchate, and
added to them Urbino and the Marca. But Astolphus, while fulfilling
the terms of his agreement, died, and Desiderius, a Lombard, who was
duke of Tuscany, took up arms to occupy the kingdom, and demanded
assistance of the pope, promising him his friendship. The pope
acceding to his request, the other princes assented. Desiderius kept
faith at first, and proceeded to resign the districts to the pope,
according to the agreement made with Pepin, so that an exarch was no
longer sent from Constantinople to Ravenna, but it was governed
according to the will of the pope. Pepin soon after died, and was
succeeded by his son Charles, the same who, on account of the
magnitude and success of his enterprises, was called Charlemagne, or
Charles the Great. Theodore I. now succeeded to the papacy, and
discord arising between him and Desiderius, the latter besieged him in
Rome. The pope requested assistance of Charles, who, having crossed
the Alps, besieged Desiderius in Pavai, where he took both him and his
children, and sent them prisoners to France. He then went to visit the
pontiff at Rome, where he declared, THAT THE POPE, BEING VICAR OF GOD,
COULD NOT BE JUDGED BY MEN. The pope and the people of Rome made him
emperor; and thus Rome began to have an emperor of the west. And
whereas the popes used to be established by the emperors, the latter
now began to have need of the popes at their elections; the empire
continued to lose its powers, while the church acquired them; and, by
these means, she constantly extended her authority over temporal

The Lombards, having now been two hundred and thirty-two years in the
country, were strangers only in name, and Charles, wishing to
reorganize the states of Italy, consented that they should occupy the
places in which they had been brought up, and call the province after
their own name, Lombardy. That they might be led to respect the Roman
name, he ordered all that part of Italy adjoining to them, which had
been under the exarchate of Ravenna, to be called Romagna. Besides
this, he created his son Pepin, king of Italy, whose dominion extended
to Benevento; all the rest being possessed by the Greek emperor, with
whom Charles was in league. About this time Pascal I. occupied the
pontificate, and the priests of the churches of Rome, from being near
to the pope, and attending the elections of the pontiff, began to
dignify their own power with a title, by calling themselves cardinals,
and arrogated so great authority, that having excluded the people of
Rome from the election of pontiff, the appointment of a new pope was
scarcely ever made except from one of their own number: thus on the
death of Pascal, the cardinal of St. Sabina was created pope by the
title of Eugenius II. Italy having come into the hands of the French,
a change of form and order took place, the popes acquiring greater
temporal power, and the new authorities adopting the titles of count
and marquis, as that of duke had been introduced by Longinus, exarch
of Ravenna. After the deaths of some pontiffs, Osporco, a Roman,
succeeded to the papacy; but on account of his unseemly appellation,
he took the name of Sergius, and this was the origin of that change of
names which the popes adopt upon their election to the pontificate.

In the meantime, the Emperor Charles died and was succeeded by Lewis
(the Pious, after whose death so many disputes arose among his sons,
that at the time of his grandchildren, the house of France lost the
empire, which then came to the Germans; the first German emperor being
called Arnolfus. Nor did the Carlovingian family lose the empire only;
their discords also occasioned them the loss of Italy; for the
Lombards, gathering strength, offended the pope and the Romans, and
Arnolfo, not knowing where to seek relief, was compelled to create
Berengarius, duke of Fruili, king of Italy. These events induced the
Huns, who occupied Pannonia, to assail Italy; but, in an engagement
with Berengarius, they were compelled to return to Pannonia, which had
from them been named Hungary.

Romano was at this time emperor of Greece, having, while prefect of
the army, dethroned Constantine; and as Puglia and Calabria, which, as
before observed, were parts of the Greek empire, had revolted, he gave
permission to the Saracans to occupy them; and they having taken
possession of these provinces, besieged Rome. The Romans, Berengarius
being then engaged in defending himself against the Huns, appointed
Alberic, duke of Tuscany, their leader. By his valor Rome was saved
from the Saracens, who, withdrawing from the siege, erected a fortress
upon Mount Gargano, by means of which they governed Puglia and
Calabria, and harassed the whole country. Thus Italy was in those
times very grievously afflicted, being in constant warfare with the
Huns in the direction of the Alps, and, on the Neapolitan side,
suffering from the inroads of the Saracens. This state of things
continued many years, occupying the reigns of three Berengarii, who
succeeded each other; and during this time the pope and the church
were greatly disturbed; the impotence of the eastern, and the disunion
which prevailed among the western princes, leaving them without
defense. The city of Genoa, with all her territory upon the rivers,
having been overrun by the Saracens, an impulse was thus given to the
rising greatness of Pisa, in which city multitudes took refuge who had
been driven out of their own country. These events occurred in the
year 931, when Otho, duke of Saxony, the son of Henry and Matilda, a
man of great prudence and reputation, being made emperor, the pope
Agapito, begged that he would come into Italy and relieve him from the
tyranny of the Berengarii.

The States of Italy were governed in this manner: Lombardy was under
Berengarius III. and Alfred his son; Tuscany and Romagna were governed
by a deputy of the western emperor; Puglia and Calabria were partly
under the Greek emperor, and partly under the Saracens; in Rome two
consuls were annually chosen from the nobility, who governed her
according to ancient custom; to these was added a prefect, who
dispensed justice among the people; and there was a council of twelve,
who each year appointed rectors for the places subject to them. The
popes had more or less authority in Rome and the rest of Italy, in
proportion as they were favorites of the emperor or of the most
powerful states. The Emperor Otho came into Italy, took the kingdom
from the Berengarii, in which they had reigned fifty-five years, and
reinstated the pontiff in his dignity. He had a son and a nephew, each
named Otho, who, one after the other, succeeded to the empire. In the
reign of Otho III., Pope Gregory V. was expelled by the Romans;
whereupon the emperor came into Italy and replaced him; and the pope,
to revenge himself on the Romans, took from them the right to create
an emperor, and gave it to three princes and three bishops of Germany;
the princes of Brandenburg, Palatine, and Saxony, and the bishops of
Magonza, Treveri, and Colonia. This occurred in the year 1002. After
the death of Otho III. the electors created Henry, duke of Bavaria,
emperor, who at the end of twelve years was crowned by Pope Stephen
VIII. Henry and his wife Simeonda were persons of very holy life, as
is seen by the many temples built and endowed by them, of which the
church of St. Miniato, near Florence, is one. Henry died in 1024, and
was succeeded by Conrad of Suabia; and the latter by Henry II., who
came to Rome; and as there was a schism in the church of three popes,
he set them all aside, and caused the election of Clement II., by whom
he was crowned emperor.

Niccolo Machiavelli