« ՆախորդըContinue »
concords, or rules of government of prepositions, could not have been the work of any educated Italian.
With the death of Rothari in 652, began a time of trouble and confusion for the Lombards, in which they ceased to win ground from the Romans, and fell into civil strife and anarchy. It commenced by the murder of Rothari's son, Rodoald, after he had reigned less than six months. He was a prince of licentious manners, and fell a victim to the dagger of an outraged husband (653).
The eighty years of Italian history during which the Lombards were settling down in the valley of the Po, and along the Umbrian and Samnite slopes of the Apennines, have won their chief importance in the story of the world, not from the doings of Agilulf or Rothari, but from the events that were taking place in Rome. To these years we may ascribe the foundation of the temporal power of the Papacy, and the development of the oecumenical position of the bishop of Rome to an extent which had hitherto been uncontemplated. These movements owe most of their strength to a single man, Pope Gregory the Great.
After the first shock of the Lombard invasion had rent Italy in twain, the Imperial governors resolved to take up their residence in Ravenna, not in Rome—in the capital of the Italy of Theodoric, not that of the Italy of Augustus. They chose the strong marsh-fortress close to the Lombard border, not the decayed city of the Tiber, still scarred by the traces of Rise of the Baduila's harrying. The exarch stationed himself Papacy. at Ravenna, and delegated his civil and military
authority in the scattered portions of Imperial Italy to minor officials, of whom the duces of Rome and Naples were the chief. This removal of the seat of the viceroy from the ancient metropolis was destined to have the most far-reaching results. Its first was that the chief lay official in Rome was an individual of far less authority and prestige than the chief ecclesiastical personage there resident. The bishops of Rome had always been men of importance; their claim to a patriarchal primacy over all the Western sees of Europe had already been formulated. In the ancient civil 'diocese' of Italy—that is, in the Italian peninsula, Africa, and Illyricurn— it had much reality. The African and Dalmatian churches referred matters of difficulty to Rome for decision, no less than did the church of Italy. We find Gregory the Great exercising a real influence in places as distant as Salona, Larissa, and Carthage. During the existence of the kingdom of the Ostrogoths, the Popes had obtained a kind of recognition from trie Teutonic kings, as the accredited representatives of the Catholic and Roman population of Italy. They were certainly the most important subjects of the realm outside the ranks of the Gothic conquerors, and were allowed to petition or plead with the king in behalf of all the Catholic Italians. The reconquest of Italy by Justinian had threatened to lower the prestige and power of the Popes, by placing them once more under a master who was both the legitimate ruler of the whole empire and an orthodox Catholic. Justinian had dealt in a very autocratic manner with the Roman bishops, as the tales of the woes of Vigilius and Silverius show. He summoned them to Constantinople, bullied, imprisoned, or tried them at his good pleasure. The continued survival of the Imperial power in Italy would have checked the growth of Papal authority in a great measure.
But the Lombard invasion changed the aspect of affairs. The Imperial governors and garrisons were swept into corners of the peninsula, and the Popes left without any master on the spot to curb them. The unfortunate Eastern wars of Maurice, Phocas, and Heraclius prevented them from turning any adequate attention to Italy. They sent the exarchs over to make what fight they could, without giving them adequate supplies, either of men or money. The exarchs, penned up in Ravenna, could only communicate with Rome with the greatest difficulty: the land-route of communication was almost cut by the Lombards of Spoleto; the sea-route was long and difficult. Hence Rome was left to itself, to fall or stand by its own strength and its own counsel. The Pope and the 'Duke' of Rome were continually thrown upon their own resources, without the power of asking advice or aid, either from the emperor or the exarch. For twenty-seven years, as Pope Gregory once wrote, Rome was continually in imminent peril of Lombard conquest (572-599), and obliged to provide for itself. In this time of stress and storm the Popes won their first secular authority over Rome and its vicinity, and reduced the civil magistrates to a place of quite secondary importance.
The man to whom the increase in the power of the Papacy was mainly due was Pope Gregory the Great, whose sway of fourteen years (590-604) covers the second half of the reign of Maurice and the first two years of Phocas. Gregory was a man of exceptional capacity, and of exceptional opportunities, at once administrator, diplomatist, monk, and saint. He was a noble Roman, who had spent his early manhood in the civil service, and had risen to the rank of prefect of the city. In early middle age he suddenly cast secular things aside, employed his wealth to found monasteries, and entered one Gregory the himself as a simple monk. He plunged into Great, 590-604. the most rigid extremes of asceticism, and almost killed himself by his perpetual macerations of the flesh. Ere long he became abbot, and signalised himself by the stringent discipline which he maintained over his monks, as well as by his fiery zeal and untiring charity. It was at this time of his life that there occurred the scene so well known to all English readers. When he found the Northumbrian boys exposed for sale in the market-place of Rome, he conceived pity in his heart for the uncared-for heathen of Britain, and determined to cross the northern seas, and bear the Gospel to the Saxon and Angle. But Pope Pelagius n. interfered to prevent the most able, as well as the most saintly, of his clergy from leaving the service of the Roman See, and risking his life among the Pagans. He forbade Gregory's departure for England, and sent him instead to represent the Papacy at the court of Constantinople. A few years after his return from this mission, which was long enough to enable him to get a clear view of the weakness of the emperor Maurice, and of his impotence to interfere in Italian matters, Gregory was chosen bishop of Rome, when Pelagius died of the plague (590).
Gregory was elected without the Imperial sanction. Rome was so closely beset by the Lombards that there was neither time nor means for asking Maurice's consent, but the emperor afterwards confirmed the elevation of the saintly abbot. All Italy—nay, even the whole of the Christian West—knew of him already as the most prominent of the Roman clergy, and he was able at once to assume a position of great independence and authority. Gregory's most striking feature was his extraordinary self-confidence and conviction in the absolute wisdom and righteousness of his own ideas. The legend, started by \
his admirers not long after his death, to the effect that he was actually inspired by the Holy Ghost, who visited him in the form of a dove; very adequately represents his own notion of his infallibility. It was this self-confidence which enabled him to take up the line of stern and unbending autocracy which he always adopted. Other men were mute and obedient before the imperious saint, in whom th^y recognised their moral superior. Few, save the emperor Maurice and the fanatical John the Faster, patriarch of Constantinople, ever ventured to confront or withstand him. Unquestionably he was the most able, and one of the best-intentioned, men of his age. He left his mark on all that he touched, from the conversion of the English and the Lombards down to the official music of the Western Church—the Gregorian chants that still preserve his name. Although posterity enshrined him as one of the four great doctors of the Latin Church, his theological work was the weakest part of his activity. His writings are full of tropes, far-fetched conceits, misinterpretation of Scripture (he was ignorant of Hebrew and even of Greek), and pedantic arguments from analogy.
It was as statesman and administrator, and fosterer of missionary work that Gregory was truly great. In Rome he ruled as a temporal governor rather than a bishop. It was he who provided against the attacks of the Lombards, arrayed soldiers for the defence of the walls, fed the starving people from the funds of the church, and negotiated with the chiefs of the enemy in behalf of the people of the Ducatus Romanus. In 592 he concluded, on his own authority, a truce with the duke of Spoleto, while the exarch was set on continuing the war. Maurice stigmatised this conduct as 'fatuous;' but, as the emperor left Rome to provide for itself, he should hardly have complained. In another crisis, Gregory appointed, Secular ac on ^s own authority, a tribune to command the tivity of garrison of Naples and a governor for the Tuscan Gregory. town of Nepi. Finally, it was he who, in 599, negotiated the treaty of peace with king Agilulf, which ended the thirty years of continuous war which had followed the first coming of the Lombards to Italy. When rebuked by the exarch, he claimed to take precedence of him, not only in virtue of his priestly office, but also in place and dignity. In short, for all practical purposes, Gregory made himself the half-independent governor of Rome.
But Gregory's progress in asserting his authority as Patriarch of the West was even more important than his advances toward temporal power. He it was who recovered Spain and Britain for the Catholic Church—the former by the conversion of Reccared from Arianism,1 the latter by sending the mission of St. Augustine to Kent, and obtaining the baptism of king Ethelbert. Through the influence of queen Theodelinda, he obtained control over the Lombard king Agilulf, and induced him to "bring up his son Adaloald as a Catholic.2 He could claim, in short, that he had reunited Italy, Spain, and Britain to the body of the Church of Christ. He also exercised coninternational siderable influence in Gaul, mainly through the authority of influence of the great queen-mother Brunhildis, Gregory. a favourer of ali things Roman, with whom he maintained a long and friendly correspondence. We have 1 See pp. 141, 142. 2 See p. 195.