The Formation of Christendom, Volume VI - The Holy See and the Wandering of the Nations, from St. Leo I to St. Gregory I
by Thomas W. (Thomas William) Allies
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse





Author of the "Formation Of Christendom"; "Church and State As Seen in the Formation of Christendom"; "The Throne of the Fisherman"; "A Life's Decision"; and "Per Crucem Ad Lucem"

London: Burns & Oates, Limited New York: Catholic Publication Society Co. 1888


Cardinal Mai has left recorded his judgment that, "in matter of fact, the whole administration of the Church is learnt in the letters of the Popes".[1]

I draw from this judgment the inference that of all sources for the truths of history none are so precious, instructive, and authoritative as these authentic letters contemporaneous with the persons to whom they are addressed. The first which has been preserved to us is that of Pope St. Clement, the contemporary of St. Peter and St. Paul. It is directed to the Church of Corinth for the purpose of extinguishing a schism which had there broken out. In issuing his decision the Pope appeals to the Three Divine Persons to bear witness that the things which he has written "are written by us through the Holy Spirit," and claims obedience to them from those to whom he sends them as words "spoken by God through us".[2]

If the decisions of the succeeding Popes in the interval of nearly two hundred and fifty years between this letter of St. Clement, about the year 95, and the great letter of St. Julius to the Eusebianising bishops at Antioch in 342, had been preserved entire, the constitution of the Church in that interval would have shone before us in clear light. In fact, we only possess a few fragments of some of these decisions, for there was a great destruction of such documents in the persecution which occupied the first decade of the fourth century. But from the time of Pope Siricius, in the reign of the great Theodosius, a continuous, though not a perfect, series of these letters stretches through the succeeding ages. There is no other such series of documents existing in the world. They throw light upon all matters and persons of which they treat. This is a light proceeding from one who lives in the midst of what he describes, who is at the centre of the greatest system of doctrine and discipline, and legislation grounded upon both, which the world has ever seen. One, also, who speaks not only with a great knowledge, but with an unequalled authority, which, in every case, is like that of no one else, but can even be supreme, when it is directed with such a purpose to the whole Church. Every Pope can speak, as St. Clement, the first of this series, speaks above, claiming obedience to his words as "words spoken by God through us".

In a former volume I made large use of the letters of Popes from Siricius to St. Leo. I have continued that use for the very important period from St. Leo to St. Gregory. Especially in treating of the Acacian schism I have gone to the letters of the Popes who had to deal with it—Simplicius, Felix III., Gelasius, Anastasius II., Symmachus, and Hormisdas. I have done the same for the important reign of Justinian; most of all for the grand pontificate of St. Gregory, which crowns the whole patristic period and sums up its discipline.

I am, therefore, indebted in this volume, first and chiefly, to the letters of the Popes and the letters addressed to them by emperors and bishops, stored up in Mansi's vast collection of Councils (1759, 31 volumes). I am also much indebted to Cardinal Hergenroether's work Photius, sein Leben, und das griechische Schisma, and to his Handbuch der allgemeinen Kirchengeschichte, as the number of quotations from him will show. Again, I may mention the two histories of the city of Rome, by Reumont and Gregorovius, as most valuable. I acknowledge many obligations to Riffel's Geschichtliche Darstellung des Verhaeltnisses zwischen Kirche und Staat, with regard to the legislation of Justinian. The edition of Justinian referred to by me is Heimbach's Authenticum, Leipsic, 1851. I have consulted Hefele's Conciliengeschichte where need was. I have found Kurth's Origines de la Civilisation moderne instructive. I have used the carefully emended and supplemented German edition of Roehrbacher's history, by various writers—Rump and others. St. Gregory is quoted from the Benedictine edition.

As these works are indicated in the notes as they occur with the single name of the author, I have given here their full titles.

The present volume is the sixth of the Formation of Christendom, though it has a special title indicating the particular part of that general subject which it treats. I have, therefore, added to the numbering of the chapters in the Table of Contents the number which they hold in the whole work.

September 11, 1888.


[1] Nova Patrum bibliotheca, p. vi.: In Pontificum reapse epistolis tota ecclesiae administratio cognoscitur.

[2] See p. 351 below; also Church and State, pp. 198-200, for the full statement of this passage.





Introduction. Connection with Volume V. St. Leo's action, 1

Denial of the Primacy as acknowledged at Chalcedon suicidal on the part of those who believe in the Church, 3

Subject of this volume as compared with the fifth, 5

The second wonder in human history, 6

The acknowledgment of the Primacy and the political powerlessness of the city of Rome coeval, 6

The three hundred years from Genseric to Astolphus, 9

St. Leo in Rome after Genseric, 10

Political condition of Rome. Avitus emperor, 455-6, 13

Majorian emperor, 457-461, 14

Death of Pope Leo; changes seen by him in his life, 15

Hilarus Pope and Libius Severus emperor, 461-465, 16

The over-lordship of Byzantium admitted in the choice of the Greek Anthemius as emperor, 467, 18

Sidonius Apollinaris an eye-witness of Rome's splendour, subjection to Byzantium, and unchanged habits in 467, 19

Anthemius murdered and Rome plundered by Ricimer, 472, 20

Olybrius emperor, 472; Ricimer and Olybrius die of the plague, 20

Glycerius emperor, 473; Nepos, 474; Romulus Augustulus, 475, 21

The senate declares to the eastern emperor that an emperor of the West is needless, 22

The twenty-one years' death-agony of imperial Rome, 23

State of the western provinces since the death of Theodosius I., 24

The first and the second victory of the Church, 25

The effect produced by the wandering of the nations, 26

The Visigoth and Ostrogoth migrations, 27

Gaul overrun by Teuton invaders, 28

Arianism propagated by the Goths among the other tribes, 29

Burgundian kingdom of Lyons. Spain overrun, 30

The Vandals in North Africa and their persecution of Catholics, 31

The Hunnish inroads, 33

All the western provinces under Teuton governments, 35

Odoacer and Theodorick, 36

Odoacer succeeded by Theodorick after the capture of Ravenna, 38

The character of Theodorick's reign, 39

His fairness towards the Roman Church and Pontiff, 40

The contrast between Theodorick and Clovis, 42

The dictum of Ataulph on the Roman empire, 43

Ataulph and Theodorick represent the better judgments of the invaders, 44

The outlook of Pope Simplicius at Rome over the western provinces, 45

And over the eastern empire, 46

Basiliscus and Zeno the first theologising emperors, 47

How the races descending on the empire had become Arian, 49

The point of time when the Church was in danger of losing all which she had gained, 50

How the division of the empire called out the Primacy, 51

How the extinction of the western empire does so yet more, 53

How the Pope was the sole fixed point in a transitional world, 54

Guizot's testimony, 55

What St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and St. Leo did not foresee, which we behold, 57



Great changes in the Roman State following the time of St. Leo, 59

Nature of the succession in the Caesarean throne, and then in the Byzantine, 61

Personal changes in the Popes and eastern emperors, 62

Gennadius succeeds Anatolius, and Acacius succeeds Gennadius in the see of Constantinople, 64

Acacius resists the Encyclikon of Basiliscus, 65

Letter of Pope Simplicius to the emperor Zeno, 66

Advancement of Acacius by Zeno, 69

Acacius induces Zeno to publish a formulary of doctrine, 70

John Talaia, elected patriarch of Alexandria, appeals for support to Pope Simplicius, 70

Pope Felix sends an embassy to the emperor, 71

His letter to Zeno, 72

His letter to Acacius, 73

His legates arrested, imprisoned, robbed, and seduced, 74

Pope Felix synodically deposes Acacius, 75

Enumerates his misdeeds in the sentence, 76

Synodal decrees in Italy signed by the Pope alone, 78

Letter of Pope Felix to Zeno setting forth the condemnation of Acacius, 79

The condition of the Pope when he thus wrote, 81

How Acacius received the Pope's condemnation, 83

The position which Acacius thereupon took up, 84

The greatness of the bishop of Constantinople identified with the greatness of his city, 84

The humiliations of Rome witnessed by Acacius, 86

How the Pope, under these humiliations, spoke to Acacius and to the emperor, 88

The Pope on the one side, Acacius on the other, represent an absolute contradiction, 89

Eudoxius and Valens matched by Acacius and Zeno, 92

Death of Acacius, and estimate of him by three contemporaries, 93

Fravita, succeeding Acacius, seeks the Pope's recognition, 93

Letters of the emperor and Fravita to the Pope, and his answers, 94

The position taken by Acacius not maintained by Zeno and Fravita, 96

Nor by Euphemius, who succeeds Fravita, 96

Euphemius suspects and resists the new emperor Anastasius, 97

Condition of the Empire and the Church at the accession of Pope Gelasius in 492, 98

The "libellus synodicus" on the emperor Anastasius, 100

With whom the four Popes—Gelasius, Anastasius, Symmachus, and Hormisdas—have to deal, 101

Euphemius, writing to the Pope, acknowledges him to be successor of St. Peter, 103

Gelasius replies to Euphemius, insisting on the repudiation of Acacius, 104

Absolute obedience of the Illyrian bishops professed to the Apostolic See, 105

Gelasius shows that the canons make the First See supreme judge of all, 106

Says that the bishop of Constantinople holds no rank among bishops, 107

Praises bishops who have resisted the wrongdoings of temporal rulers, 108

The Holy See, in virtue of its Principate, confirms every Council, 109

Gelasius in 494 defines to the emperor the domain of the Two Powers, 110

And the subordination of the temporal ruler in spiritual things, 111

The words of Gelasius have become the law of the Church, 113

The emperor Anastasius deposes Euphemius by the Resident Council, 114

Pope Gelasius, in a council of seventy bishops at Rome, sets forth the divine institution of the Primacy, 115

And the order of the three Patriarchal Sees, 115

And three General Councils—the Nicene, Ephesine, and Chalcedonic, 115

Denies to the see of Constantinople any rank beyond that of an ordinary bishop, and omits the Council of 381, 116

Death of Pope Gelasius and character of his pontificate, 118

His own description of the time in which he lived, 118



Pope Anastasius: his letter to the emperor Anastasius, 120

He makes the Pope's position in the Church parallel with that of the emperor in the world, 121

He writes to Clovis on his conversion, 122

St. Gregory of Tours notes the prosperity of Catholic kingdoms and the decline of Arian in the West, 123

Letter of St. Avitus, bishop of Vienne, to Clovis on his baptism, 124

He recognises the vast importance of the professing the Catholic faith by Clovis, 125

And the duty of Clovis to propagate the faith in peoples around, 126

How the words of St. Avitus to Clovis were fulfilled in history, 127

The election of Pope Symmachus traversed by the emperor's agent, 128

His letter termed "Apologetica" to the eastern emperor, 129

The imperial and papal power compared, 131

The papal and the sovereign power the double permanent head of human society, 133

Emperors wont to acknowledge Popes on their accession, 134

Inferences to be deduced from this letter, 135

The answer of the emperor Anastasius is to stir up a fresh schism at Rome, 136

The Synodus Palmaris, without judging the Pope, declares him free from all charge, 137

Letter of the bishop of Vienne to the Roman senate upon this Council, 139

The cause of the Bishop of Rome is not that of one bishop, but of the Episcopate itself, 140

Words of Ennodius, bishop of Pavia, embodied in the act of the Roman Council of 503, 142

Result of the attack of the emperor on the Pope is the recording in black and white that the First See is judged by no man, 143

The eastern Church under the emperor Anastasius, 143

He deposes Macedonius as well as Euphemius, 144

Both these bishops of Byzantium failed to resist his despotism, 147

Eastern bishops address Pope Symmachus to succour them, 148

Pope Hormisdas succeeds Symmachus in 514, 149

His instruction to the legates sent to Constantinople, 150

The bishop of Constantinople presents all bishops to the emperor, 157

The conditions for reunion made by Pope Hormisdas, 158

The treacherous conduct of the emperor, 159

Hormisdas describes Greek diplomacy, 160

The Syrian Archimandrites supplicate the Pope for help, 161

Sudden death of the emperor Anastasius, 162

The emperor Justin's election and antecedents, 162

He notifies his accession to the Pope, 163

The Pope holds a council and sends an embassy to Constantinople, 164

The bishop, clergy, and emperor accept the terms of the Pope, 165

The formulary of union signed by them, 167

The report of the legates to the Pope, 169

The emperor Justin's letter to the Pope, 170

Character of the period 455-519, 171

Political state of the East and West most perilous to the Church, 172

The Popes under Odoacer and Theodorick, 173

How Acacius took advantage of the political situation, 174

The meaning and range of his attempt, 175

The Pope from 476 onwards rests solely upon his Apostolate, 176

The seven Popes who succeed St. Leo, 179

The seven bishops who succeed Anatolius at Constantinople, 180

The eastern emperors in this time, 182

The state of the eastern patriarchates, Alexandria and Antioch, 184

The waning of secular Rome reveals the power of the Pontificate, 185

The Popes alone preserved the East from the Eutychean heresy, 185

The position of St. Leo maintained by the seven following Popes, 186

The submission to Hormisdas an act of the "undivided" Church, 187

The adverse circumstances which developed the Pope's Principate, 188



Sequel in Justinian of the submission to Pope Hormisdas, 189

His acknowledgment of the Primacy to Pope John II. in 533, 190

Reply of Pope John II. confirming the confession sent to him by Justinian, 191

The Pandects of Justinian issued in the same year, 192

Close interweaving of ecclesiastical and temporal interests, 193

Interference with the freedom of the papal election by the temporal ruler, 194

Letter of Cassiodorus as Praetorian prefect to Pope John II., 195

Justinian all his reign acknowledged the Primacy of the Pope, 196

His character, purposes, and actions, 196

Succeeds his uncle the emperor Justin I., 198

Great political changes coeval with his succession, 199

He reconquers Northern Africa by Belisarius, 199

The Catholic bishops of Africa meet again in General Council, 200

They send an embassy to consult Pope John II., 201

Pope Agapetus notes their reference to the Apostolic Principate, 202

Great renown of Justinian at the reconquest of Africa, 203

Pope Agapetus at Constantinople deposes its bishop, 204

Justinian begins the Gothic War. Belisarius enters Rome, 205

He is welcomed as restorer of the empire, 206

The empress Theodora deposes Pope Silverius by Belisarius, 207

First siege of Rome by Vitiges, 210

The mausoleum of Hadrian stripped of its statues, 211

Vitiges, having lost half his army, raises the siege, 213

Belisarius, having reconquered Italy, is recalled for the war with Persia, 214

Totila, elected Gothic king, renews the war, 214

Visits St. Benedict at Monte Cassino, and is warned by him, 215

Second siege of Rome by Totila, 216

Rome taken by Totila in 546, 216

Third capture of Rome by Belisarius, in 547, 217

Fourth capture of Rome by Totila, in 549, 218

Totila defeated and killed by Narses at Taginas, 219

Fifth capture of Rome by Narses, in 552, 220

End of the Gothic war, in 555, 221

Its effect on the civil condition of the Pope, Italy, and Rome, 222

The sufferings of Rome from assailants and defenders, 223

The new test of papal authority applied by these events, 225

Vigilius, having become legitimate Pope, is sent for by Justinian, 226

Church proceedings at Constantinople after the death of Pope Agapetus, 227

The patriarch Mennas, in conjunction with the emperor, consecrates at Constantinople a patriarch of Alexandria, 228

The Origenistic struggle in the eastern empire, 229

Justinian theologising, 230

The whole East urged to consent to his edict on doctrine, 231

Pope Vigilius, summoned by Justinian, enters Constantinople, 232

After long conferences with emperor and bishops he issues a Judgment, 234

The Pope and emperor agree upon holding a General Council, 235

The emperor's despotism, and the bishops crouching before it, 236

The Pope takes sanctuary, and is torn away from the altar, 237

Flies to the church at Chalcedon, 238

The bishops relent, and the Pope returns to Constantinople, 239

Eutychius, succeeding Mennas, proposes a council under presidency of the Pope, 239

The emperor causes it to meet under Eutychius without the Pope, 240

Proceedings of the Council. The Pope declines their invitation, 241

Close of the Council, without the Pope's presence, 242

The Pope issues a Constitution apart from the Council, 242

Also a condemnation of the Three Chapters without mention of the Council, 243

The Pope on his way back to Rome dies at Syracuse, 244

The patriarch Eutychius, refusing to sign a doctrinal decree of Justinian, is deposed by the Resident Council, 244

Justinian issues his Pragmatic Sanction for government of Italy, 245

State of things following in Italy, 246

Justinian's conception of the relation between Church and State, 248

He gives to the decrees of Councils and to the canons the force of law, 250

Three leading principles in these enactments, 251

The State completely recognises the Church's whole constitution, 251

The episcopal idea thoroughly realised, 253

Concurrent action of the laws of Church and State herein, 254

Justinian further associated bishops with the civil government, 255

The part given to them in civil administration, 256

A system of mutual supervision in bishops and governors, 257

The branches of civil matters specially put under bishops, 259

The completeness and the cordiality of the alliance with the Church, 261

Which differentiates Justinian's attitude from that of modern governments, 262

In what Justinian was a true maintainer of the imperial idea, 264

The dark blot which lies upon Justinian, 267

How he passed from the line of defence to that of interference and mastery, 269

The result, spiritual and temporal, of Justinian's reign, 270



The state of Rome as a city after the prefecture of Narses, 272

Contrast of Nova Roma, 274

The Rome of the Church a new city, 275

St. Gregory's antecedents as prefect, monk, nuncio, and deacon of the Roman Church, 276

Elected Pope against his will. His description of his work, 278

And of the time's calamity, 279

The utter misery of Rome expressed in the words of Ezechiel, 281

Contrast between the language used of Rome by St. Leo and St. Gregory, 283

St. Gregory closes his preaching in St. Peter's, overcome with sorrow, 284

The works of St. Gregory out of this Rome, 285

The Lombard descent on Italy, 287

Rome ransomed from the Lombards, and Monte Cassino destroyed, 290

The Primacy untouched by the temporal calamities of Rome, 292

Its unique prerogative brought out by unequalled sufferings, 293

The new city of Rome lived only by the Primacy, 294

St. Gregory's account of the Primacy to the empress Constantina, 295

He identifies his own authority with that of St. Peter, 296

Writes to the emperor Mauritius that the union of the Two Powers would secure the empire against barbarians, 297

Claims to the emperor St. Peter's charge over the whole Church, 298

John the Foster's assumed title on injury to the whole Church, 299

What St. Gregory infers from the three patriarchal sees being all sees of Peter, 301

Contrast drawn by St. Gregory between the Pope's Principate and John the Faster's assumed title, 302

The fatal falsehood which this title presupposed, 303

The opposing truth in the Principate made de Fide by the Vatican Council, 306

St. Leo against Anatolius, and St. Gregory against John the Faster, occupy like positions, 307

St. Gregory's title, "Servant of the servants of God," expresses the maxim of his government, 308

The fourteen books of St. Gregory's letters range over every subject in the whole Church, 309

The special relation between the sees of St. Peter and St. Mark, 311

Asserts his supremacy to the Lombard queen Theodelinda, 311

St. Gregory appoints the bishop of Arles to be over the metropolitans of Gaul, 312

The venture of St. Gregory in attempting the conversion of England, 313

St. Augustine commended to queen Brunechild and consecrated by the bishop of Arles, and the English Church made by Gregory, 315

Work of St. Gregory in the Spanish Church, 316

He relates the martyrdom of St. Hermenegild, 316

His letters to St. Leander of Seville, 317

Conversion of king Rechared, 318

St. Gregory's letter of congratulation to him, 318

Letter of king Rechared informing the Pope of his conversion, 321

Gibbon's account of the government which was the result of Rechared's conversion, 322

The important principles thus consecrated by the Church, 324

Overthrow of the Arian kingdoms in Africa, Spain, Gaul and Italy, between Pope Felix III. and Pope Gregory I., 325

The equal failure of Genseric, Euric, Gondebald, and Theodorick, 327

The part in this which the Catholic bishops had, 329

The Spanish monarchy first of many formed by the Church, 331

Superiority of this government to the Byzantine absolutism, 332

St. Gregory as fourth doctor of the western Church, 334

St. Gregory as a chief artificer in the Church's second victory, 335

Summary of St. Gregory's action as metropolitan patriarch and Pope, 337

Councils held by him in Rome: protection of monks, 338

His management of the Patrimonium Petri, 340

His success with schismatics and heretics, 341

The Primacy from St. Leo to St. Gregory, 342

The continued rise of the bishop of Constantinople, 343-5

The political degradation and danger of Rome, 345

Long disaster reveals still more the purely spiritual foundation of the Primacy, 346

Testimony given by the disappearance of the Arian governments and the conversion of Franks and Saxons, 347

The patriarchate of Constantinople imposed by civil law, 348

The Nicene constitution in the East impaired by despotism and heresy, 349

The persistent defence of this constitution by the Popes, 350

The Petra Apostolica in the sixty Popes preceding Gregory, 352

As discerned by Hurter in the time of Pope Innocent III., 353

As in the time from Pope Innocent III. to Leo XIII., 355

The continuous Primacy from St. Peter to St. Gregory, 355

As Rome diminishes the Primacy advances, 356

The times in which it was exercised by St. Gregory, 358

The opposing forces which unite to sustain the Petra Apostolica, 359

INDEX, 361




"Rome's ending seemed the ending of a world. If this our earth had in the vast sea sunk, Save one black ridge whereon I sat alone, Such wreck had seemed not greater. It was gone, That empire last, sole heir of all the empires, Their arms, their arts, their letters, and their laws. The fountains of the nether deep are burst, The second deluge comes. And let it come! The God who sits above the waterspouts Remains unshaken."

—A. DE VERE, Legends and Records—"Death of St. Jerome".

I ended the last chapter by drawing out that series of events in the Church's internal constitution and of changes in the external world of action outside and independent of the Church which combined in one result the exhibition to all and the public acknowledgment by the Church of the Primacy given by our Lord to St. Peter, and continued to his successors in the See of Rome. I showed St. Leo as exercising this Primacy by annulling the acts of an Ecumenical Council, the second of Ephesus, legitimately called and attended by his own legates, because it had denied a tenet of what St. Leo declared in a letter sent to the bishops and accepted by them to be the Christian faith upon the Incarnation itself. I showed him supported by the Church in that annulment, by the eastern episcopate, which attended the Council of Chalcedon, and by the eastern emperor, Marcian. Again, I showed him confirming the doctrinal decrees of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, which followed the Council annulled by him, while he reversed and disallowed certain canons which had been irregularly passed. This he did because they were injurious to that constitution of the Church which had come down from the Apostles to his own time. And this act of his, also, I showed to be accepted by the bishop of Constantinople, who was specially affected, and by the eastern emperor, and by the episcopate: and also that the confirmation of doctrine on the one hand, and the rejection of canons on the other, were equally accepted. I also showed this great Council in its Synodical Letter to the Pope acknowledging spontaneously that very position of the Pope which the Popes had always set forth as the ground of all the authority which they claimed. The Council of Chalcedon addressed St. Leo "as entrusted by the Saviour with the guardianship of the Vine". But the Vine in the universal language of the Fathers betokened the whole Church of God. And the Council refers the confirmation of its acts to the Pope in the same document in which it asserts that the guardianship of the Vine was given to him by the Saviour Himself. This expression, "by the Saviour Himself," means that it was not given to him by the decree of any Council representing the Church. It is a full acknowledgment that the promises made to Peter, and the Pastorship conferred upon him, descended to his successor in the See of Rome. It is a full acknowledgment; for how else was St. Leo entrusted by the Saviour with the guardianship of the Vine? Those who so addressed him were equally bishops with himself; they equally enjoyed the one indivisible episcopate, "of which a part is held by each without division of the whole".[3] But this one, beside and beyond that, was charged with the whole—the Vine itself. This one point is that in which St. Peter went beyond his brethren, by the special gift and appointment of the Saviour Himself. The words, then, of the Council contain a special acknowledgment that the line of Popes after a succession of four hundred years sat in the person of Leo on the seat of St. Peter, with St. Peter's one sovereign prerogative.

It is requisite, I think, distinctly to point out that Christians, whoever they are, provided only that they admit, as confessing belief in any one of the three creeds, the Apostolic, the Nicene, or the Athanasian, they do admit, that there is one holy Catholic Church, commit a suicidal act in denying the Primacy as acknowledged by the Church at the Council of Chalcedon. For such a denial destroys the authority of the Church herself both in doctrine and discipline for all subsequent time. If the Church, in declaring St. Leo to be entrusted by our Lord with the guardianship of the Vine, erred; if she asserted a falsehood, or if she favoured an usurpation, how can she be trusted for any maintenance of doctrine, for any administration of sacraments, for any exercise of authority? This consideration does not touch those who believe in no Church at all. They are in the position of that individual whom the great Constantine recommended to take a ladder and mount to heaven by himself. But it touches all who profess to believe in an episcopate, in councils, in sacraments, in an organised Church, in authority deposited in that Church, and, finally, in history and in historical Christianity. To all such it may surely be said, as the simplest enunciation of reasoning, that they cannot profess belief in the Church which the Creed proclaims while they accept or reject its authority as they please. Or to localise a general expression: A man does not follow the doctrine of St. Augustine if he accepts his condemnation of Pelagius, but denies that unity of the Church in maintaining which St. Augustine spent his forty years of teaching. The action of all such persons in the eyes of the world without amounts to this, that by denying the Primacy they disprove the existence of the Church. Their negation goes to the profit of total unbelief. Asserters of the Church's division are pioneers of infidelity, for who can believe in what has fallen? or is the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ a kingdom divided against itself? They who maintain schism generate agnostics.

But I was prevented on a former occasion by want of space from dwelling with due force upon some circumstances of St. Leo's life. These are such as to make his time an era. I was occupied during a whole volume with the attempt to set forth in some sort the action of St. Peter's See upon the Greek and Roman world from the day of Pentecost to the complete recognition of the Universal Pastorship of Peter as inherited by the Roman Pontiff in the person of St. Leo.

I approach now a further development of this subject. I go forward to treat of the Papacy, deprived of all temporal support from the fall of the western empire, taking up the secular capital into a new spiritual Rome, and creating a Christendom out of the northern tribes who had subverted the Roman empire.

There is, I think, no greater wonder in human history than the creation of a hierarchy out of the principle of headship and subordination contained in our Lord's charge to Peter. It has been pointed out that the constitution of the Nicene Council itself manifested this principle, and was the proof of its spontaneous action in the preceding centuries, while its overt recognition, as seated in the Roman Pontiff, is seen in the pontificate of St. Leo.

There is a second wonder in human history, on which it is the purpose of this volume to dwell. The Roman empire, in which the Pax Romana had provided a mould of widespread civilisation for the Church's growth, was at length broken up in the western half of it, by Teuton invaders occupying its provinces. These were all, at the time of their settlement, either pagan or Arian. There followed, in a certain lapse of time, the creation of a body of States whose centre of union and belief was the See of Peter. That is the creation of Christendom proper. The wonder seen is that the northern tribes, impinging on the empire, and settling on its various provinces like vultures, became the matter into which the Holy See, guiding and unifying the episcopate, maintaining the original principle of celibacy, and planting it in the institute of the religious life through various countries depopulated or barbarous, infused into the whole mass one spirit, so that Arians became Catholics, Teuton raiders issued into Christian kings, savage tribes thrown upon captive provincials coalesced into nations, while all were raised together into, not a restored empire of Augustus, but an empire holy as well as Roman, whose chief was the Church's defender (advocatus ecclesiae), whose creator was the Roman Peter.

It is not a little remarkable that this signal recognition by the Fourth General Council of the Roman Pontiff's authority coincided in time with the utter powerlessness to which Rome as a city was reduced. That city, on whose glory as queen of nations and civiliser of the earth her own bishop had dwelt with all the fondness of a Roman, when, year by year, on the least of St. Peter and St. Paul, he addressed the assembled episcopate of Italy, ran twice, in his own time, the most imminent danger of ceasing to exist. Italy was absolutely without an army to give her strongest cities a chance of resisting the desolation of Attila. Rome was without a force raised to save it from the pitiless robbery of Genseric. Without escort, and defended only by his spiritual character, Leo went forth to appeal before Attila for mercy to a heathen Mongol. There is no record of what passed at that interview. Only the result is known. The conqueror, who had swept with remorseless cruelty the whole country from the Euxine to the Adriatic Sea, who was now bent upon the seizure of Italy itself, and in his course had just destroyed Aquileia, was at Mantua marching upon Rome. His intention was proclaimed to crown all his acts of destruction with that of Rome. This was the dowry which he proposed to take for the hand of the last great emperor's granddaughter, proffered to him by the hapless Honoria herself. At the word of Leo the Scourge of God gave up his prey: he turned back from Italy, and relinquished Rome, and Leo returned to his seat. In the course of the next three years he confirmed, at the eastern emperor's repeated request, the doctrinal decrees of the great Council; but he humbled likewise the arrogance of Anatolius, and not all the loyalty of Marcian, not all the devotion of the empress and saint Pulcheria, could induce him to exalt the bishop of the eastern capital at the expense of the Petrine hierarchy. But during those same three years he saw, in Rome itself, Honoria's brother, the grandson of Theodosius, destroy his own throne, and thereupon the murderer of an emperor compel his widow to accept him in her husband's place, in the first days of her sorrow. He saw, further, that daughter of Theodosius and Eudoxia, when she learnt that the usurper of her husband's throne was likewise his murderer, call in the Vandal from Carthage to avenge her double dishonour. This was the Rome which awaited, trembling and undefended, the most profligate of armies, led by the most cruel of persecutors. Once more St. Leo, stripped of all human aid, went forth with his clergy on the road to the port by which Genseric was advancing, to plead before an Arian pirate for the preservation of the capital of the Catholic faith. He saved his people from massacre and his city from burning, but not the houses from plunder. For fourteen days Rome was subject to every spoliation which African avarice could inflict. Again, no record of that misery has been kept; but the hand of Genseric was heavier than that of Alaric, in proportion as the Vandal was cruel where the Ostrogoth was generous. Alaric would have fought for Rome as Stilicho fought, had he continued to be commanded by that Theodosius who made him a Roman general; but Genseric was the vilest in soul of all the Teuton invaders, and for fifty years, during the utter prostration of Roman power, he infested all the shores of the Mediterranean with the savagery afterwards shown by Saracen and Algerine.

This second plundering of Rome was no isolated event. It was only the sign of that utter impotence into which Roman power in the West had fallen. The city of Rome was the trophy of Caesarean government during five hundred years—from Julius, the most royal, to Valentinian, the most abject of emperors. And now its temporal greatness was lost for ever. It ceased to be the imperial city, but by the same stroke became from the secular a spiritual capital. The Pope, freed from the western Caesar,[4] gave to the Caesarean city its second and greater life: a life of another kind generating also an empire of another sort. The raid of Genseric in the year 455 is the first of three hundred years of warfare carried on from the time of the Vandal through the time of the Lombard, under the neglect and oppression of the Byzantine, until, in the year 755, Astolphus, the last, and perhaps the worst, of an evil brood, laid waste the campagna, and besieged the city. St. Leo, in his double embassy to Attila and Genseric, was an unconscious prophet of the time to come, a visible picture of three hundred years as singular in their conflict and their issue as those other three hundred which had their close in the Nicene Council. During all those ages the Pope is never secure in his own city. He sees the trophy of Caesarean empire slowly perish away. The capital of the world ceases to be even the capital of a province. The eastern emperor, who still called himself emperor of the Romans, omitted for many generations even to visit the city which he had subjected to an impotent but malignant official, termed an Exarch, who guarded himself by the marshes of Ravenna, but left Rome to the inroads of the Lombards. The last emperor who deigned to visit the old capital of his empire came to it only to tear from it the last relic of imperial magnificence. But then Jerusalem had fallen into the hands of the infidel, and Christian pilgrims, since they could no longer visit the sepulchre of Christ, flocked to the sepulchre of his Vicar the Fisherman. And thus Rome was become the place of pilgrimage for all the West. Saxon kings and queens laid down their crowns before St. Peter's threshold, invested themselves with the cowl, and died, healed and happy, under the shadow of the chief Apostle. When the three hundred years were ended, the arm of Pepin made the Pope a sovereign in his own newly-created Rome. During these three centuries, running from St. Leo meeting Genseric, the pilot of St. Peter's ship has been tossed without intermission on the waves of a heaving ocean, but he has saved his vessel and the freight which it bears—the Christian faith. And in doing this he has made the new-created city, which had become the place of pilgrimage, to be also the centre of a new world.

As Leo came back from the gate leading to the harbour and re-entered his Lateran palace, undefended Rome was taken possession of by the Vandal. Leo for fourteen days was condemned to hear the cries of his people, and the tale of unnumbered insults and iniquities committed in the palaces and houses of Rome. When the stipulated days were over, the plunderer bore away the captive empress and her daughters from the palace of the Caesars, which he had so completely sacked that even the copper vessels were carried off. Genseric also assaulted the yet untouched temple of Jupiter on the Capitol, and not only carried away the still remaining statues in his fleet which occupied the Tiber, but stripped off half the roof of the temple and its tiles of gilded bronze. He took away also the spoils of the temple at Jerusalem, which Vespasian had deposited in his temple of peace. Belisarius found them at Carthage eighty years later, and sent them as prizes to Constantinople.[5]

Many thousand Romans of every age and condition Genseric carried as slaves to Carthage, together with Eudocia and her daughters, the eldest of whom Genseric compelled to marry his son Hunnerich. After sixteen years of unwilling marriage Eudocia at last escaped, and through great perils reached Jerusalem, where she died and was buried beside her grandmother, that other Eudocia, the beautiful Athenais whom St. Pulcheria gave to her brother for bride, and whose romantic exaltation to the throne of the East ended in banishment at Jerusalem. But one of the great churches at Rome is connected with her memory: since the first Eudocia sent to the empress her daughter at Rome half of the chains which had bound St. Peter at his imprisonment by Agrippa. When Pope Leo held the relics, which had come from Jerusalem, to those other relics belonging to the Apostle's captivity at Rome on his martyrdom, they grew together and became one chain of thirty-eight links. Upon this the empress in the days of her happiness built the Church of St. Peter ad Vincula to receive so touching a memorial of the Apostle who escaped martyrdom at Jerusalem to find it at Rome. Upon his delivery by the angel "from all the expectation of the people of the Jews," he "went to another place". There, to use the words of his own personal friend and second successor at Antioch, he founded "the church presiding over charity in the place of the country of the Romans,"[6] and there he was to find his own resting-place. The church was built to guard the emblems of the two captivities. The heathen festival of Augustus, which used to be kept on the 1st August at the spot where the church was founded, became for all Christendom the feast of St. Peter's Chains.[7]

In the life of St. Leo by Anastasius, we read that after the Vandal ruin he supplied the parish churches of Rome with silver plate from the six silver vessels, weighing each a hundred pounds, which Constantine had given to the basilicas of the Lateran, of St. Peter, and of St. Paul, two to each. These churches were spared the plundering to which every other building was subjected. But the buildings of Rome were not burnt, though even senatorian families were reduced to beggary, and the population was diminished through misery and flight, besides those who were carried off to slavery.

At this point of time the grandeur of Trajan's city[8] began to pass into the silence and desolation which St. Gregory in after years mourned over in the words of Jeremias on ruined Jerusalem.

Let us go back with Leo to his patriarchal palace, and realise if we can the condition of things in which he dwelt at home, as well as the condition throughout all the West of the Church which his courage had saved from heresy.

The male line of Theodosius had ended with the murder of Valentinian in the Campus Martius, March 16, 455. Maximus seized his throne and his widow, and was murdered in the streets of Rome in June, 455, at the end of seventy-seven days. When Genseric had carried off his spoil, the throne of the western empire, no longer claimed by anyone of the imperial race, became a prey to ambitious generals. The first tenant of that throne was Avitus, a nobleman from Gaul, named by the influence of the Visigothic king, Theodorich of Toulouse. He assumed the purple at Arles, on the 10th July, 455. The Roman senate, which clung to its hereditary right to name the princes, accepted him, not being able to help itself, on the 1st January, 456; his son-in-law, Sidonius Apollinaris, delivered the customary panegyric, and was rewarded with a bronze statue in the forum of Trajan, which we thus know to have escaped injury from the raid of Genseric. But at the bidding of Ricimer, who had become the most powerful general, the senate deposed Avitus; he fled to his country Auvergne, and was killed on the way in September, 456.

All power now lay in the hands of Ricimer. He was by his father a Sueve; by his mother, grandson of Wallia, the Visigothic king at Toulouse. With him began that domination of foreign soldiery which in twenty years destroyed the western empire. Through his favour the senator Majorian was named emperor in the spring of 457. The senate, the people, the army, and the eastern emperor, Leo I., were united in hailing his election. He is described as recalling by his many virtues the best Roman emperors. In his letter to the senate, which he drew up after his election in Ravenna, men thought they heard the voice of Trajan. An emperor who proposed to rule according to the laws and tradition of the old time filled Rome with joy. All his edicts compelled the people to admire his wisdom and goodness. One of these most strictly forbade the employment of the materials from older buildings, an unhappy custom which had already begun, for, says the special historian of the city, the time had already come when Rome, destroying itself, was made use of as a great chalk-pit and marble quarry;[9] and for such it served the Romans themselves for more than a thousand years. They were the true barbarians who destroyed their city.

But Majorian was unable to prevent the ruin either of city or of state. He had made great exertions to punish Genseric by reconquering Africa. They were not successful; Ricimer compelled him to resign on the 2nd of August, 461, and five days afterwards he died by a death of which is only known that it was violent. A man, says Procopius, upright to his subjects, terrible to his enemies, who surpassed in every virtue all those who before him had reigned over the Romans.

Three months after Majorian, died Pope St. Leo. First of his line to bear the name of Great, who twice saved his city, and once, by the express avowal of a successor, the Church herself, Leo carried his crown of thorns one-and-twenty years, and has left no plaint to posterity of the calamities witnessed by him in that long pontificate. Majorian was the fourth sovereign whom in six years and a half he had seen to perish by violence. A man with so keen an intellectual vision, so wise a measure of men and things, must have fathomed to its full extent the depth of moral corruption in the midst of which the Church he presided over fought for existence. This among his own people. But who likewise can have felt, as he did, the overmastering flood of northern tribes—vis consili expers—which had descended on the empire in his own lifetime. As a boy he must have known the great Theodosius ruling by force of mind that warlike but savage host of Teuton mercenaries. In his one life, Visigoth and Ostrogoth, Vandal and Herule, Frank and Aleman, Burgundian and Sueve, instead of serving Rome as soldiers in the hand of one greater than themselves, had become masters of a perishing world's mistress; and the successor of Peter was no longer safe in the Roman palace which the first of Christian emperors had bestowed upon the Church's chief bishop. Instead of Constantine and Theodosius, Leo had witnessed Arcadius and Honorius; instead of emperors the ablest men of their day, who could be twelve hours in the saddle at need, emperors who fed chickens or listened to the counsel of eunuchs in their palace. Even this was not enough. He had seen Stilicho and Aetius in turn support their feeble sovereigns, and in turn assassinated for that support; and the depth of all ignominy in a Valentinian closing the twelve hundred years of Rome with the crime of a dastard, followed by Genseric, who was again to be overtopped by Ricimer, while world and Church barely escape from Attila's uncouth savagery. But Leo in his letters written in the midst of such calamities, in his sermons spoken from St. Peter's chair, speaks as if he were addressing a prostrate world with the inward vision of a seer to whom the triumph of the heavenly Jerusalem is clearly revealed, while he proclaims the work of the City of God on earth with equal assurance.

Hilarus in that same November, 461, succeeded to the apostolic chair. Hilarus was that undaunted Roman deacon and legate who with difficulty saved his life at the Robber-Council of Ephesus, where St. Flavian, bishop of Constantinople, was beaten to death by the party of Dioscorus, and who carried to St. Leo a faithful report of that Council's acts. At the same time the Lucanian Libius Severus succeeded to the throne. All that is known of him is that he was an inglorious creature of Ricimer, and prolonged a government without record until the autumn of 465, when his maker got tired of him. He disappeared, and Ricimer ruled alone for nearly two years. Yet he did not venture to end the empire with a stroke of violence, or change the title of Patricius, bestowed upon him by the eastern emperor, for that of king. In this death-struggle of the realm the senate showed courage. The Roman fathers in their corporate capacity served as a last bond of the State as it was falling to pieces; and Sidonius Apollinaris said of them that they might rank as princes with the bearer of the purple, only, he adds significantly, if we put out of question the armed force.[10] The protection of the eastern emperor, Leo I., helped them in this resistance to Ricimer. The national party in Rome itself called on the Greek emperor for support. The utter dissolution of the western empire, when German tribes, Burgundians, Franks, Visigoths, and Vandals, had taken permanent possession of its provinces outside of Italy, while the violated dignity of Rome sank daily into greater impotence, now made Byzantium come forth as the true head of the empire. The better among the eastern Caesars acknowledged the duty of maintaining it one and indivisible. They treated sinking Italy as one of their provinces, and prevented the Germans from asserting lordship over it.

At length, after more than a year's vacancy of the throne, Ricimer was obliged not only to let the senate treat with the Eastern emperor, Leo I., but to accept from Leo the choice of a Greek. Anthemius, one of the chief senators at Byzantium, who had married the late emperor Marcian's daughter, was sent with solemn pomp to Rome, and on the 12th April, 467, he accepted the imperial dignity in the presence of senate, people, and army, three miles outside the gates. Ricimer also condescended to accept his daughter as his bride, and we have an account of the wedding from that same Sidonius Apollinaris who a few years before had delivered the panegyric upon the accession of his own father-in-law, Avitus, afterwards deposed and killed by Ricimer; moreover, he had in the same way welcomed the accession of the noble Majorian, destroyed by the same Ricimer. Now on this third occasion Sidonius describes the whole city as swimming in a sea of joy. Bridal songs with fescennine licence resounded in the theatres, market-places, courts, and gymnasia. All business was suspended. Even then Rome impressed the Gallic courtier-poet with the appearance of the world's capital. What is important is that we find this testimony of an eye-witness, given incidentally in his correspondence, that Rome in her buildings was still in all her splendour. And again in his long panegyric he makes Rome address the eastern emperor, beseeching him, in requital for all those eastern provinces which she has given to Byzantium—"Only grant me Anthemius;[11] reign long, O Leo, in your own parts, but grant me my desire to govern mine." Thus Sidonius shows in his verses what is but too apparent in the history of the elevation of Anthemius, that Nova Roma on the borders of Europe and Asia was the real sovereign.[12] And we also learn that the whole internal order of government, the structure of Roman law, and the daily habit of life had remained unaltered by barbarian occupation. This is the last time that Rome appears in garments of joy. The last reflection of her hundred triumphs still shines upon her palaces, baths, and temples. The Roman people, diminished in number, but unaltered in character, still frequented the baths of Nero, of Agrippa, of Diocletian; and Sidonius recommends instead baths less splendid, but less seductive to the senses.[13]

But Anthemius lasted no longer than the noble Majorian or the ignoble Severus. East and West had united their strength in a great expedition to put down the incessant Vandal piracies, which made all the coasts of the Mediterranean insecure.[14] It failed through the treachery of the eastern commander Basiliscus, to whose evil deeds we shall have hereafter to recur. This disaster shook the credit of Anthemius, and Ricimer also tired of his father-in-law. He went to Milan, and Rome was terrified with the report that he had made a compact with barbarians beyond the Alps. Ricimer marched upon Rome, to which he laid siege in 472. Here he was joined by Anicius Olybrius, who had married Placidia, the younger daughter of Valentinian and Eudoxia, through whom he claimed the throne, as representative of the Theodosian line. Ricimer, after a fierce contest with Anthemius, burst into the Aurelian gate at the head of troops all of German blood and Arian belief, massacring and plundering all but two of the fourteen regions. But the city escaped burning.

Then Anicius Olybrius entered Rome, consumed at once by famine, pestilence, and the sword. With the consent of Leo, and at the request of Genseric, he had been already named emperor. He took possession of the imperial palace, and made the senate acknowledge him. Anthemius had been cut in pieces, but forty days after his death Ricimer died of the plague, and thus had not been able to put to death more than four Roman emperors, of whom his father-in-law, Anthemius, was the last. The Arian Condottiere, who had inflicted on Rome a third plundering, said to be worse than that of Genseric, was buried in the Church of St. Agatha in Suburra,[15] which had been ceded to the Arians, and which he had adorned.

Olybrius made the Burgundian prince Gundebald commander of the forces, but died himself in October of that same year, 472, and left the throne to be the gift of barbarian adventurers. Three more shadows of emperors passed. Gundebald gave that dignity at Ravenna, in March, 473, to Glycerius, a man of unknown antecedents. In 474, Glycerius was deposed by Nepos, a Dalmatian, whom the empress Verina, widow of Leo I., had sent with an army from Byzantium to Ravenna. Nepos compelled his predecessor to abdicate, and to become bishop of Salona. He himself was proclaimed emperor at Rome on the 24th June, 474, after which he returned to Ravenna. While he was here treating with Euric, the Visigoth king, at Toulouse, Orestes, whom he had made Patricius and commander of the barbaric troops for Gaul, rose against him. Nepos fled by sea from Ravenna in August, 475, and betook himself to Salona, whither he had banished Glycerius.

Orestes was a Pannonian; had been Attila's secretary; then commander of German troops in service of the emperors. Thus he came to lead the troops which had been under Ricimer. This heap of Germans and Sarmatians without a country were in wild excitement, demanding a cession of Italian lands, instead of a march into Gaul. They offered their general the crown of Italy. Orestes thought it better to invest therewith his young son, and so, on the 31st October, 475, the boy Romulus Augustus, by the supremest mockery of what is called fortune, sat for a moment on the seat of the first king and the first emperor of Rome.

Italy could no longer produce an army, and the foreign soldiery who had served under various leaders naturally desired the partition of its lands. Odoacer was now their leader, who, when a penniless youth, had visited St. Severinus in Noricum, and received from him the prophecy: "Go into Italy, clad now in poor skins: thou wilt speedily be able to clothe many richly". Odoacer, after an adventurous life of heroic courage, made the homeless warriors whom he now commanded understand that it was better to settle on the fair lands of Italy than wander about in the service of phantom emperors. They acclaimed him as their king, and after beheading Orestes and getting possession of Romulus Augustus, he compelled him to abdicate before the senate, and the senate to declare that the western empire was extinct. This happened in the third year of the emperor Zeno the Isaurian, the ninth of Pope Simplicius, A.D. 476. The senate sent deputies to Zeno at Byzantium to declare that Rome no longer required an independent emperor; that one emperor was sufficient for East and for West; that they had chosen for the protector of Italy Odoacer, a man skilled in the arts of peace as well as war, and besought Zeno to entrust him with the dignity of Patricius and the government of Italy. The deposed Nepos also sent a petition to Zeno to restore him. Zeno replied to the senate that of the two emperors whom he had sent to them, they had deposed Nepos and killed Anthemius. But he received the diadem and the imperial jewels of the western empire, and kept them in his palace. He endured the usurper who had taken possession of Italy until he was able to put him down, and so, in his letters to Odoacer, invested him with the title of "Patricius of the Romans," leaving the government of Italy to a German commander under his imperial authority. So the division into East and West was cancelled: Italy as a province belonged still to the one emperor, who was seated at Byzantium. In theory, the unity of Constantine's time was restored; in fact, Rome and the West were surrendered to Teuton invaders.[16] This was the last stroke: the mighty members of the great mother—Gaul, and Spain, and Britain, and Africa, and Illyricum—had been severed from her. Now, the head, discrowned and impotent, submitted to the rule of Odoacer the Herule. The Byzantine supremacy remained in keeping for future use. It had been acknowledged from the death of Honorius in 423, when Galla Placidia had become empress and her son emperor by the gift and the army of Theodosius II.

The agony of imperial Rome lasted twenty-one years. Valentinian III. was reigning in 455: in the March of that year he was murdered, and succeeded by Maximus, who was murdered in June; then by Avitus in July, who was murdered in October, 456. Majorianus followed in 457, and reigned till August, 461: he was followed by Libius Severus in November, who lasted four years, till November, 465. After an interregnum of eighteen months, in which Ricimer practically ruled, Anthemius was brought from Byzantium in April, 467, and continued till July, 472; but Anicius Olybrius again was brought from Byzantium, reigned for a few months in 472, and died of the plague in October. In 473, Glycerius was put up for emperor; in 474, he gave place to Nepos, the third brought from Byzantium. In 475, Romulus Augustus appears, to disappear in 476, and end his life in retirement at the Villa of Lucullus by Naples, once the seat of Rome's most luxurious senator.

Eighty years had now passed since the death of Theodosius. In the course of these years the realm which he had saved from dissolution after the defeat and death of Valens near Adrianople, and had preserved during fifteen years by wisdom in council and valour in war, and still more by his piety, when once his protecting hand and ruling mind were withdrawn, fell to pieces in the West, and was scarcely saved in the East. Let us take the last five years of St. Leo, which follow on the raid of Genseric, in order to complete the sketch just given of Rome's political state, by showing the condition of the great provinces which belonged to Leo's special patriarchate. I have before noticed how it was in the interval between the retirement of Attila from Rome at the prayer of St. Leo and the seizure of Rome by Genseric at the solicitation of the miserable empress Eudoxia, when St. Leo could save only the lives of his people, that he confirmed the Fourth Ecumenical Council. Not only was he entreated to do this by the emperor Marcian: the Council itself solicited the confirmation of its acts, which for that purpose were laid before him, while it made the most specific confession of his authority as the one person on earth entrusted by the Lord with His vineyard. From the particular time and the circumstances under which these events took place, one may infer a special intention of the Divine Providence. This was that the whole Roman empire, while it still subsisted, the two emperors, one of whom was on the point of disappearing, and the whole episcopate, in the most solemn form, should attest the Roman bishop's universal pastorship. For a great period was ending, the period of the Graeco-Roman civilisation, from which, after three centuries of persecution, the Church had obtained recognition. And a great period was beginning, when the wandering of the nations had prepared for the Church another task. The first had been to obtain the conversion of nations linked by the bond of one temporal rule, enjoying the highest degree of culture and knowledge then existing, but deeply tainted by the corruption of effete refinement. The second was to exalt rough, sturdy, barbarian natures, whose bride was the sword and human life their prey, first to the virtues of the civil state, and next to the higher life of Christian charity, and thus to link them, who had known only violent repulsion and perpetual warfare among themselves, in not a temporal but a spiritual bond. The majestic figure of St. Leo expressed the completion of the first task. It also symbolises the beneficent power which in the course of ages will accomplish the second.

The wandering of the nations, says a great historian, was of decisive effect for the Church, and he quotes another historian's summary description of it: "It was not the migration of individual nomad hordes, or masses of adventurous warriors in continuous motion, which produced changes so mighty. But great, long-settled peoples, with wives and children, with goods and chattels, deserted their old seats, and sought for themselves in the far distance a new home. By this the position of individuals, of communities, of whole peoples, was of necessity completely altered. The old conditions of possession were dissolved. The existing bonds of society loosened. The old frontiers of states and lands passed away. As a whole city is turned into a ruinous heap by an earthquake, so the whole political system of previous times was overthrown by this massive transmigration. A new order of things had to be formed corresponding to the wholly altered circumstances of the nation."[17]

I draw from the same historian[18] an outline of the movement, running through several centuries, which had this final result. Great troops of Celts had, before the time of Christ, sought to settle themselves in Rhoetia and Upper Italy, even as far as Rome. Cimbrians and Teutons, with as little success, had betaken themselves southwards, while under the empire the pressure of peoples had more and more increased, and Trajan could hardly maintain the northern frontier on the Danube. In the third century, Alemans and Sueves advanced to the Upper Rhine, and the Goths, from dwelling between the Don and Theiss, came to the Danube and the Black Sea. Decius fell in battle with them. Aurelian gave them up the province of Dacia. Constantine the Great conquered them, and had Gothic troops in his army. Often they broke into the Roman territory, and carried off prisoners with them. Some of these were Christians and introduced the Goths to the knowledge of Christianity. Theophilus, a Gothic bishop, was at the Nicene Council in 325. They had clergy, monks, and nuns, with numerous believers. Under Athanarich, king of the Visigoths, Christians already suffered, with credit, a bloody persecution. On the occasion of the Huns, a Scythian people, compelling the Alans on the Don to join them, then conquering the Ostrogoths and oppressing the Visigoths, the latter prevailed on the emperor Valens to admit them into the empire. Valens gave them dwellings in Thrace on the condition that they should serve in his army and accept Arian Christianity. So the larger number of Visigoths under Fridiger in 375 became Arians. They soon, however, broke into conflict with the empire through their ill-treatment by the imperial commanders. In 378, Valens was defeated near Adrianople; his army was utterly crushed; he met himself with a miserable death. After this the Visigoths in general continued to be Arians, though many, especially through the exertions of St. Chrysostom, were converted to Catholicism. Most of them, however, seem to have been only half Arians, like their famous bishop Ulphilas. He was by birth a Goth—some say a Cappadocian—was consecrated between 341 and 348, in Constantinople. He gave the Goths an alphabet of their own, formed after the Greek, and made for them a translation of the Bible, of great value as a record of ancient German. He died in Constantinople before 388—probably in 381.

Under Theodosius I., about 382, the Visigoths accepted the Roman supremacy, and the engagement to supply 40,000 men for the service of the empire, upon the terms of occupying, as allies free of tribute, the provinces assigned to them of Dacia, Lower Moesia, and Thrace. After this, discontented at the holding back their pay, and irritated by Rufinus, who was then at the head of the government of the emperor Arcadius, they laid waste the Illyrian provinces down to the Peloponnesus, and made repeated irruptions into Italy, in 400 and 402, under their valiant leader Alarich. In 408 he besieged Rome, and exacted considerable sums from it. He renewed the siege in 409, and made the wretched prefect Attalus emperor, whom he afterwards deposed, and recognised Honorius again. At last he took Rome by storm on the 24th August, 410. The city was completely plundered, but the lives of the people spared. He withdrew to Lower Italy and soon died. His brother-in-law and successor, Ataulf, was first minded entirely to destroy the Roman empire, but afterwards to restore it by Gothic aid. In the end he went to Gaul, conquered Narbonne, Toulouse, and Bordeaux, and afterwards Barcelona. His half-brother Wallia, after reducing the Alans and driving back the Sueves and Vandals, planted his seat in Toulouse, which became, in 415, the capital of his Aquitanean kingdom, Gothia or Septimania. Gaul, in which several Roman commanders assumed the imperial title, was overrun in the years from 406 to 416 by various peoples, whom the two opposing sides called in: by Burgundians, Franks, Alemans, Vandals, Quades, Alans, Gepids, Herules. The Alans, Sueves, Vandals, and Visigoths, at the same time, went to Spain. Their leaders endeavoured to set up kingdoms of their own all over Gaul and Spain.

Arianism came from the Visigoths not only to the Ostrogoths but also to the Gepids, Sueves, Alans, Burgundians, and Vandals. But these peoples, with the exception of the Vandals and of some Visigoth kings, treated the Catholic religion, which was that of their Roman subjects, with consideration and esteem. Only here and there Catholics were compelled to embrace Arianism. Their chief enemy in Gaul was the Visigoth king Eurich. Wallia, dying in 419, had been succeeded by Theodorich I. and Theodorich II., both of whom had extended the kingdom, which Eurich still more increased. He died in 483. Under him many Catholic churches were laid waste, and the Catholics suffered a bloody persecution. He was rather the head of a sect than the ruler of subjects. This, however, led to the dissolution of his kingdom, which, from 507, was more and more merged in that of the Franks.

The Burgundians, who had pressed onwards from the Oder and the Vistula to the Rhine, were in 417 already Christian. They afterwards founded a kingdom, with Lyons for capital, between the Rhone and the Saone. Their king Gundobald was Arian. But Arianism was not universal; and Patiens, bishop of Lyons, who died in 491, maintained the Catholic doctrine. A conference between Catholics and Arians in 499 converted few. But Avitus, bishop of Vienne, gained influence with Gundobald, so that he inclined to the Catholic Church, which his son Sigismund, in 517, openly professed. The Burgundian kingdom was united with the Frankish from 534.

The Sueves had founded a kingdom in Spain under their king Rechila, still a heathen. He died in 448. His successor, Rechiar, was Catholic. When king Rimismund married the daughter of the Visigoth king Theodorich, an Arian, he tried to introduce Arianism, and persecuted the Catholics, who had many martyrs—Pancratian of Braga, Patanius, and others. It was only between 550 and 560 that the Gallician kingdom of the Sueves, under king Charrarich, became Catholic, when his son Ariamir or Theodemir was healed by the intercession of St. Martin of Tours, and converted by Martin, bishop of Duma. In 563 a synod was held by the metropolitan of Braga, which established the Catholic faith. But in 585, Leovigild, the Arian king of the larger Visigoth kingdom, incorporated with his territory the smaller kingdom of the Sueves. Catholicism was still more threatened when Leovigild executed his own son Hermenegild, who had married the Frankish princess Jugundis, for becoming a Catholic. But the martyr's brother, Rechared, was converted by St. Leander, archbishop of Seville, and in 589 publicly professed himself a Catholic. This faith now prevailed through all Spain.

The Vandals, rudest of all the German peoples, had been invited by Count Boniface, in 429, to pass over from Spain under their king Genseric to the Roman province of North Africa. They quickly conquered it entirely. Genseric, a fanatical Arian, persecuted the Catholics in every way, took from them their churches, banished their bishops, tortured and put to death many. Some bishops he made slaves. He exposed Quodvultdeus, bishop of Carthage, with a number of clergy, to the mercy of the waves on a wretched raft. Yet they reached Naples. The Arian clergy encouraged the king in all his cruelties. It was only in private houses or in suburbs that the Catholics could celebrate their worship. The violence of his tyranny, which led many to doubt even the providence of God, brought the Catholic Church in North Africa into the deepest distress. Genseric's son and successor, Hunnerich, who reigned from 477 to 484, was at first milder. He had married Eudoxia, elder daughter of Valentinian III. The emperor Zeno had specially recommended to him the African Catholics. He allowed them to meet again, and, after the see of Carthage had been vacant twenty-four years, to have a new bishop. So the brave confessor Eugenius was chosen in 479. But this favour was followed by a much severer persecution. Eugenius, accused by the bitter Arian bishop Cyrila, was severely ill-treated, shut up with 4976 of the faithful, banished into the barest desert, wherein many died of exhaustion. Hunnerich stripped the Catholics of their goods, and banished them chiefly to Sardinia and Corsica. Consecrated virgins were tortured to extort from them admission that their own clergy had committed sin with them. A conference held at Carthage in 484 between Catholic and Arian bishops was made a pretext for fresh acts of violence, which the emperor Zeno, moved by Pope Felix III. to intercede, was unable to prevent. 348 bishops were banished. Many died of ill usage. Arian baptism was forced upon not a few, and very many lost limbs. This persecution produced countless martyrs. The greatest wonders of divine grace were shown in it. Christians at Tipasa, whose tongues had been cut out at the root, kept the free use of their speech, and sang songs of praise to Christ, whose godhead was mocked by the Arians. Many of these came to Constantinople, where the imperial court was witness of the miracle. The successor of this tyrant Hunnerich, king Guntamund, who reigned from 485 to 496, treated the Catholics more fairly, and, though the persecution did not entirely cease, allowed, in 494, the banished bishops to return. A Roman Council, in 487 or 488, made the requisite regulations with regard to those who had suffered iteration of baptism, and those who had lapsed. King Trasamund, from 496 to 523, wished again to make Arianism dominant, and tried to gain individual Catholics by distinctions. When that did not succeed, he went on to oppression and banishment, took away the churches, and forbade the consecration of new bishops. As still they did not diminish, he banished 120 to Sardinia, among them a great defender of the Catholic faith, St. Fulgentius, bishop of Ruspe. King Hilderich, who reigned from 523 to 530, a gentle prince and friend of the emperor Justinian, stopped the persecution and recalled the banished. Fulgentius was received back with great joy, and in February, 525, Archbishop Bonifacius held at Carthage a Council once more, at which sixty bishops were present. Africa had still able theologians. Hilderich was murdered by his cousin Gelimer: a new persecution was preparing. But the Vandal kingdom in Africa was overthrown in 533 by the eastern general Belisarius, and northern Africa united with Justinian's empire. However, the African Church never flourished again with its former lustre.

But Gaul and Italy had been in the greatest danger of suffering a desolation in comparison with which even the Vandal persecution in Africa would have been light. St. Leo was nearly all his life contemporaneous with the terrible irruptions of the Huns. These warriors, depicted as the ugliest and most hateful of the human race, in the years from 434 to 441, having already advanced, under Attila, from the depths of Asia to the Wolga, the Don, and the Danube, pressing the Teuton tribes before them, made incursions as far as Scandinavia. In the last years of the emperor Theodosius II. they filled with horrible misery the whole range of country from the Black Sea to the Adriatic. In the spring of 451 Attila broke out from Pannonia with 700,000 men, absorbed the Alemans and other peoples in his host, wasted and plundered populous cities such as Treves, Mainz, Worms, Spires, Strasburg, and Metz. The skill of Aetius succeeded in opposing him on the plains by Chalons with the Roman army, the Visigoths, and their allies. The issue of this battle of the nations was that Attila, after suffering and inflicting fearful slaughter, retired to Pannonia. The next year he came down upon Italy, destroyed Aquileia, and the fright of his coming caused Venice to be founded on uninhabited islands, which the Scythian had no vessels to reach. He advanced over Vicenza, Padua, Verona, Milan. Rome was before him, where the successor of St. Peter stopped him. He withdrew from Italy, made one more expedition against the Visigoths in Gaul, but died shortly after. With his death his kingdom collapsed. His sons fought over its division, the Huns disappeared, and what was afterwards to be Europe became possible.

The invasions of the Hun shook to its centre the western empire. Aetius, who had saved it at Chalons in 451, received in 454 his death-blow as a reward from the hand of Valentinian III., and so we are brought to the nine phantom emperors who follow the race of the great Theodosius, when it had been terminated by the vice of its worst descendant.

One Teuton race, the most celebrated of all, I have reserved for future mention. The Franks in St. Leo's time, and for thirty-five years after his death, were still pagan. The Salian branch occupied the north of Gaul, and the Ripuarians were spread along the Rhine, about Cologne. Their paganism had prevented them from being touched by the infection of the Arian heresy, common to all the other tribes, so that the Arian religion was the mark of the Teutonic settler throughout the West, and the Catholic that of the Roman provincials.

Thus when, in the year 476, the Roman senate, at Odoacer's bidding, exercised for the last time its still legal prerogative of naming the emperor, by declaring that no emperor of the West was needed, and by sending back the insignia of empire to the eastern emperor Zeno, all the provinces of the West had fallen, as to government, into the hands of the Teuton invaders, and all of these, with the single exception of the Franks, were Arians. They alone were still pagans. Odoacer, also an Arian, became the ruler of Rome and Italy, nominally by commission from the emperor Zeno, really in virtue of the armed force, consisting of adventurers belonging to various northern tribes which he commanded. To the Romans he was Patricius,[19] a title of honour lasting for life, which from Constantine's time, without being connected with any particular office, surpassed all other dignities. To his own people he was king of the Ruges, Herules, and Turcilings, or king of the nations. He ruled Italy, and Sicily, except a small strip of coast, and Dalmatia, and these lands he was able to protect from outward attack and inward disturbance. He made Ravenna his seat of government. He did not assume the title of king at Rome. He maintained the old order of the State in appearance. The senate held its usual sittings. The Roman aristocracy occupied high posts. The consuls from the year 482 were again annually named. The Arian ruler left theological matters alone. But the eyes of Rome were turned towards Byzantium. The Roman empire continued legally to exist, and especially in the eye of the Church. The Pope maintained relations with the imperial power.

In the meantime, Theodorich the Ostrogoth, son of Theodemir, chief of the Amal family, had been sent as a hostage for the maintenance of the treaty made by the emperor Leo I. with his father, and had spent ten years, from his seventh to his seventeenth year, at Constantinople. Though he scorned to receive an education in Greek or Roman literature, he studied during these years, with unusual acuteness, the political and military circumstances of the empire. Of strong but slender figure, his beautiful features, blue eyes with dark brows, and abundant locks of long, fair hair, added to the nobility of his race, pointed him out for a future ruler.[20]

In 475, Theodorich succeeded his father as king of the Ostrogoths in their provinces of Pannonia and Moesia, which had been ceded by the empire. He it was who was destined to lead his people to glory and greatness, but also to their fall, in Italy. Zeno had striven to make him a personal friend—had made him general, given him pay and rank. Theodorich had not a little helped Zeno in his struggle for the empire. The Ostrogoth, in 484, became Roman consul; but he also appeared suddenly in a time of peace before the gates of Constantinople, in 487, to impress his demands upon Zeno. Theodorich and his people occupied towards Zeno the same position which Alaric and his Visigoths had held towards Honorius. Their provinces were exhausted, and they wanted expansion. Whether it was that Zeno deemed the Ostrogothic king might be an instrument to terminate the actual independence of Italy from his empire, or that the neighbourhood of the Goths, under so powerful a ruler, seemed to him dangerous, or that Theodorich himself had cast longing eyes upon Italy, Zeno gave a hesitating approval to the advance of the last great Gothic host to the southwest. The first had taken this direction under Alaric eighty-eight years before. Now a sovereign sanction from the senate of Constantinople, called a Pragmatic sanction, assigned Italy to the Gothic king and his people.

From Novae, Theodorich's capital on the Danube, not far from the present Bulgarian Nikopolis, this world of wanderers, numbered by a contemporary as at least 350,000, streamed forth with its endless train of waggons. At the Isonzo, Italy's frontier, Odoacer, on the 28th August, 489, encountered the flood, and was worsted, as again at the Adige. Then he took refuge in Ravenna. The end of a three years' conflict, in which the Gothic host was encamped in the pine-forest of Ravenna, and where the "Battle of the Ravens" is commemorated in the old German hero-saga, was that, in the winter of 493, the last refuge of Odoacer opened its gates. Odoacer was promised his life, but the compact was broken soon. His people proclaimed Theodorich their king. Theodorich had sent a Roman senator to Zeno to ask his confirmation of what he had done. Zeno had been succeeded by Anastasius in 491. How much Anastasius granted cannot be told. Rome, during this conflict, had remained in a sort of neutrality. At first Theodorich deprived of their freedom as Roman citizens all Italians who had stood in arms against him. Afterwards, he set himself to that work of equal government for Italians and Goths which has given a lustre to his reign, though the fair hopes which it raised foundered at last in an opposition which admitted of no reconcilement.

Theodorich[21] reigned from 493 to 526. He extended by successful wars the frontiers of the Gothic kingdom beyond the mainland of Italy and its islands. Narbonensian Gaul, Southern Austria, Bosnia, and Servia belonged to it at its greatest extension. The Theiss and the Danube, the Garonne and the Rhone, flowed beside his realm. The forms of the new government, as well as the laws, remained the same substantially as in Constantine's time. The Roman realm continued, only there stood at its head a foreign military chief, surrounded by his own people in the form of an army. Romandom lived on in manner of life, in customs, in dress. The Romans were judged according to their own laws. Gothic judges determined matters which concerned the Goths; in cases common to both they sat intermixed with Roman judges. Theodorich's principle was with firm and impartial hand to deal evenly between the two. But the military service was reserved to the Goths alone. Natives were forbidden even to carry knives. The Goths were to maintain public security: the Romans to multiply in the arts of peace. But even Theodorich could not fuse these nations together. The Goths remained foreigners in Italy, and possessed as hospites the lands assigned to them, which would seem to have been a third. This noblest of barbarian princes, and most generous of Arians, had to play two parts. In Ravenna and Verona he headed the advance of his own people, and was king of the Goths: in Rome the Patricius sought to protect and maintain. When, in 500, he visited Rome, he was received before its gates by the senate, the clergy, the people, and welcomed like an emperor of the olden time. Arian as he was, he prayed in St. Peter's, like the orthodox emperors of the line of Theodosius, at the Apostle's tomb. Before the senate-house, in the forum, Boethius greeted him with a speech. The German king admired the forum of Trajan, as the son of Constantine, 143 years before, had admired it. Statues in the interval had not ceased to adorn it. Romans and Franks, heathens and Christians, alike were there: Merobaudes, the Gallic general; Claudian, the poet from Egypt, the worshipper of Stilicho, in verses almost worthy of Virgil; Sidonius Apollinaris, the future bishop of Clermont, who panegyrised three emperors successively deposed and murdered. The theatre of Pompey and the amphitheatre of Titus still rose in their beauty; and as the Gothic king inhabited the vast and deserted halls of the Caesarean palace, he looked down upon the games of the Circus Maximus, where the diminished but unchanged populace of Rome still justified St. Leo's complaint, that the heathen games drew more people than the shrines of the martyrs whose intercession had saved Rome from Attila. In fine, St. Fulgentius could still say, If earthly Rome was so stately, what must the heavenly Jerusalem be!

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse