« AnteriorContinuar »
countenance the more lofty pretensions of fucceeding Popes m.. ::
." In 728, Italy revolted from the eastern or Greek Emperor Leo; but the Popes exhorting the Italians not to separate from the body of the Roman monarchy, the Exarch was permitted to reside within the walls of Ravenna, a captive rather than a master: and till the imperial coronation of Charlemagne, the government of Rome and Italy was exercised in the name of the successors of Constantine. The liberty of Rome, which had been oppressed by the arms and arts of Augustus, was rescued after 750 years of fervitude, from the perfecution of Leo the Ifaurian. By the Cefars, the triumphs of the Consuls had been annihilated : in the decline and fall of the Empire, the God Terminus, the sacred boundary, had insenfibly feceded from the Ocean, the Rhine, the Danube, and the Euphrates ; and Rome was reduced to her antient territory from Viterbo to Terracina, and from Narni to the mouth of the Tyber ."
“ When the sovereignty of the Greek a Gibbon, p. 459. Gibbon, vol. 5. p. 111.
Emperors Emperors was extinguished, the ruins of Rome presented the sad image of depopulation and decay : her slavery was an habit, her liberty an accident; the effect of superftition, and the object of her own amazement and terror. The last vestige of the substance, or even the forms, of the constitution, was obliterated from the practice and memory of the Romans; and they were devoid of knowledge, or virtue, again to build the fabrick of a commonwealth. Their scanty remnant, the offspring of slaves and strangers, was despicable in the eyes of the victorious Barbarians. As often as the Franks or Lombards expressed their most bitter contempt of a foe, they called him a Roman; ' and in this name,' says the Bishop Liutprand, ' we include whatever is base, whatever is cowardly, whatever is perfidious, the extremes of avarice and luxury, and every vice that can prostitute the dignity of human nature.' By the necessity of their situation, the inhabitants of Rome were cast into the rough model of a republican government: they were compelled to elect some judges in peace and some leaders in war : the nobles assembled to deliberate, and their resolves could not be executed without the union and consent
of the multitude. The style of the Roman senate and people was revived, but the spirit was fled; and their new independence was disgraced by the tumultuous conflikt of licențiousness and oppression. The want of laws could only be supplied by the influence of religion, and their foreign and domestic counsels were moderated by the authority of the Bishop. His alms, his sermons, his correspondence with the kings and prelates of the West, his recent services, their gratitude, and oath, accustomed the Romans to consider him as the first magistrate or prince of the city. The Christian humility of the popes was not offended by the name of Dominus, or. Lord; and their face and inscription are still apparent on the most antient coins. Their temporal dominion is now confirmed by the reverence of a thoufand years; and their noblest title is the free choice of a people whom they had redeemed from slaveryo.”
“ Liutprand, king of the Lombards, and the Exarch of the Greek Emperor, marched to the conquest of Spoleto and Rome : the storm evaporated without effect ; but the • Gibbon, vol. v. p. 112.
policy of Liutprand alarmed Italy with a vexatious alternative of hostility and truce. His successor Aistulphus, declared himself the equal enemy of the Emperor and the Pope: Ravenna' was subdued by force or treachery; and this final conquest extinguished the series of the Exarchs, who had reigned with a subordinate power since the time of Justinian, and the ruin of the Gothic kingdom. Rome was fummoned to acknowledge the victorious Lombard as her lawful fovereign; the annual tribute of a piece of gold was fixed as the ransom of each citizen, and the sword of destruction was unsheathed to exact the penalty of her disobedience. The Romans hesitated; they intreated; they complained ; and the threatening Barbarians were checked, by arms and negociations, till the Popes had engaged the friendship of an ally and an avenger beyond the alps.”
" In his distress the first Gregory hadh implored the aid of the hero of the age, of Charles Martel, who governed the French monarchy with the humble title of Mayor, or Duke, and who, by his signal victory over the Saracens, had saved his country, and perhaps Europe, from the Mahometan
yoke. The ambassadors of the Pope were received by Charles with decent reverence: but the greatness of his occupations, and the shortness of his life, prevented his interference in the affairs of Italy, except by a friendly and ineffectual mediation. His son Pepin, the heir of his power and virtues, assumed the office of champion of the Roman Churchp.”
When Aistulphus began to make preparations for the conquest of Rome, “ the terrified Pontiff, Stephen II. addresses himself to his powerful patron and protector, Pepin ; represents to him his deplora. ble condition, and implores his assistance. The French Monarch embarks with zeal in his cause, crosses the Alps A. D. 754. with a numerous army; and having defeated Aif tulphus, obliged him by a folemn treaty to deliver up to the fee of Rome, the exarchate of Ravenna, Pentapolis, and all the cities, castles, and territories, which he had seized in the Roman dukedom. It was not however long before the Lombard prince violated without remorse, an engagement which he had entered into with reluctance. In the
Gibbon, vol. v. p. 114, 115.