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that the popes had actually reigned in every coun-
try, where they only possessed some towns and terri-
tories.

The only pope who, towards the latter part of the
eighth century, seems to have raised himself to the
rank of prince, was Adrian I. The money coined
in his name, if that coin was really struck in his
name, plainly shows that he possessed the rights
of sovereignty, and the custom of kissing feet, which
he introduced, serves to strengthen this conjecture.
And yet he always acknowledged the Greek
emperor as his sovereign. He might very well pay
an unsubstantial homage to that distant sovereign
and at the same time arrogate to himself a real
independence, supported by the authority of his
sacred function.

Before we view in what manner the whole face
of affairs was changed in the West, by the transla-
tion of the empire, it will be necessary to give you
an idea of the state of the eastern church, the dis-
pute of which contributed not a little to that great
revolution.



The Eastern Church.



CHAPTER VII.

STATE OF THE EASTERN CHURCH, BEFORE CHARLE-
MAGNE.

THAT the customs of the Greek and Latin churches
were as different as their languages; that the lit-
urgy, the vestments, the ornaments, the form of the
churches, and even of the cross, were not the same
in both; that the Greeks prayed standing, and the
Latins on their knees, are points which I shall not
examine. It was to other causes than this differ-
ence of modes, that we must impute the quarrels
that embroiled the eastern and western parts of the
world. These served only to nourish the natural
aversion of two nations, become rivals to each
other. The Greeks especially, who never received
baptism except by immersion, plunging themselves
into baptismal tubs, hated the Latins, who, in favor
of the northern Christians, introduced that rite by
aspersion. But these customs excited no danger-
ous convulsions.

Temporal dominion, that eternal subject of dis-
cord in the West, was unknown to the eastern
churches. The bishops remained in the capacity
of subjects, under the eyes of a master. But other
quarrels, no less mischievous, were excited by those
interminable disputes that spring from the spirit of
sophistry, which predominated among the Greeks
and their disciples. The simplicity of the first ages



90 Ancient and Modern History.

was lost in the great number of questions formed
by human curiosity, for the founder of the faith
having committed nothing to writing, and mankind
being desirous of knowing everything, each mystery
produced different opinions, and every opinion was
sealed with blood.

It is remarkable that, of nearly fourscore sects
which have harassed the Church since its origin,
not one was formed by a Roman, if we except
Novatian, who can scarcely be considered as a
heretic. Of all the bishops of Rome, one only
favored any of those systems which the Church
condemned; that was Pope Honorius I., whom we
still hear every day accused of having been a Mon-
othelite, an imputation laid on purpose to blast the
memory of that pontiff, but whoever will give him-
self the trouble to read his famous pastoral letter,
in which he attributes only one will to Jesus Christ,
will find him a man of extraordinary sagacity : " We
confess only one will in Jesus Christ; we do not
see that the councils or Scripture authorize us to
espouse any other opinion, but to know whether, on
account of the works of divinity and humanity that
are in him, we ought to understand one operation
or two, is a point I leave to grammarians as a matter
of very little importance."

Perhaps there is nothing more valuable than these
words in all the letters of the popes now extant.
They convince us that all the disputes of the Greeks
were disputes upon words, and that those quarrels



The Eastern Church. 91

of mere sophists, which were attended with such
fatal consequences ought to have been stifled in
the birth. Had they been left to the decision of
grammarians, according to the opinion of this sen-
sible pontiff, the church would have enjoyed unin-
terrupted repose, but whenever any person \vas
desirous to know whether the Son was consubstan-
tial, or like unto the Father, the Christian world
was divided, and one-half persecuted the other. Was
the question to know whether the mother of Jesus
Christ was the mother of God, or of Jesus only?
Whether Christ had two natures and two wills in
the same person, or two persons and one will, or
one will and one person ? All these disputes brought
forth in Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria,
were the source of sedition. One party anathema-
tized another. The domineering faction inflicted the
pains of exile, imprisonment, death, and eternal
damnation upon their antagonists, who avenged
themselves in their turn, by the same artillery.
Troubles of this nature were unknown in the time
of paganism, because the heathens, in the midst of
their gross errors, had no tenets, and the priests of
the idols, much less the laity, never juridically
assembled on purpose to dispute.

In the eighth century, the churches of the East
deliberated whether it was incumbent on them to
worship images. This kind of worship the law of
Moses had expressly forbidden. That law had never
been annulled, and the primitive Christians, during



92 Ancient and Modern History.

the two first centuries, had never suffered images to
appear in their assemblies. By little and little, it
became the fashion everywhere for persons to have
crucifixes in their own houses ; afterwards they in-
troduced portraits, whether true or false, of the mar-
tyrs or confessors. As yet there were no altars
erected for saints, nor masses celebrated in their
names. It was only supposed that at sight of a
crucifix or image of a good man, the human heart,
which, in those climates especially, has need of sen-
sible objects, would be stimulated to virtue. This
custom was introduced into churches; yet some
bishops refused to adopt it. We find, that in 393,
St. Epiphanius pulled away from a church in Syria
a certain image before which the people offered their
devotion. He declared that the Christian religion
did not allow of such worships, yet no schism was
produced from this act of severity.

At length this pious practice, like all other human
things, degenerated into abuse. The populace, ever
gross and stupid, did not distinguish between the
real God and images. To these, in a little time, they
began to attribute virtues and miracles. Every
image infallibly cured one kind of distemper. They
were even used in sorcery, which has at all times
seduced the credulity of the vulgar ; I mean not only
the vulgar of the populace, but also that of the great
and the learned. In the year 727, the emperor Leo,
the Isaurian, resolved, by the persuasion of some
bishops, to eradicate this abuse, but by an abuse



The Eastern Church. 93

still more flagrant, he ordered all paintings to be
destroyed. He demolished the statues and repre-
sentations of Jesus Christ, as well as those of the
saints. He incensed the people by thus at once
depriving them of the objects of their worship. They
disobeyed his commands, and he raised a persecution.
In a word, he became a tyrant, because his conduct
happened to be indiscreet.

It is a reproach upon this age that it should pro-
duce compilers, who still repeat the old fable of two
Jews who predicted to Leo his future greatness,
and exacted of him that, on his elevation to the
empire, he should abolish image worship, as if it
had been a matter of any consequence to the Jews
whether the Christians had or had not figures in
their churches. Historians who believe that per-
sons can thus prognosticate what is to happen, are
altogether unworthy to record what has passed.

His son, Constantine Copronymus, confirmed the
abolition of images, by a civil and ecclesiastical con-
stitution. He assembled at Constantinople a council
of three hundred and thirty-eight bishops, who unan-
imously condemned this kind of worship, which
had been received in many churches, and particu-
larly at Rome.

This emperor would have as willingly abolished
the monks, whom he abhorred, and to whom he gave
no other appellation than that of abominable
wretches, but he could not accomplish his design.
The monks, who were already rich, defended their



94 Ancient and Modern History.

wealth much more dexterously than they had done
the images of their saints.

The popes, Gregory II. and Gregory III., and
their successors, though secretly enemies to the
emperors, and openly opposed to this doctrine, did
not, however, fulminate those sentences of excom-
munication, which later on were so frequently and
so frivolously employed. But whether the metropol-
itans of Rome were still restrained by that ancient
respect for the successors of the Caesars, or, which
is more probable, they foresaw that those excom-
munications, interdictions, and dispensations with
the oath of allegiance, would be despised in Con-
stantinople, whose patriarchal church at least
equalled the see of Rome, they held two councils
in 728 and 732, which determined that all the ene-
mies of image worship should be barely excom-
municated, without once mentioning the emperor.
From that period they attended more to business
than to dispute. Gregory II. assumed the adminis-
tration of affairs at Rome, while the people, rising
in rebellion against the emperor, would no longer
pay the usual tribute. Gregory III. acted on the
same principles. Some Greek authors of a pos-
terior date, with a view to blacken the memory of
the popes, have affirmed that Gregory II. excom-
municated and deposed the emperor, and that the
whole Roman people acknowledged this pontiff as
their sovereign. These Greeks did not consider
that the popes, whom they wanted to represent as



Charlemagne. 95

usurpers, would, in that case, have been the most
lawful of all princes. They would have held their
power by the free suffrages of the Roman people,
and become sovereigns of Rome by a much juster
title than that of many emperors, but it is neither
probable nor true that the Romans, when threat-
ened by Leo the Isaurian, and hard pressed by the
Lombards, elected their bishop as their sole lord
and master, at a time when they stood in need of
the assistance of warriors. If the popes, at that
period, had acquired so fair a title to the rank of
the Caesars, they would never have transferred it
in the end to Charlemagne.

CHAPTER VIII.

CHARLEMAGNE.

THE kingdom of Pepin extended from the Rhine to
the Alps and the Pyrenees. Charlemagne, his eldest
son, enjoyed that whole succession entire; for one
of his brothers died after the division, and the other
had, before that period, turned monk, in the mon-
astery of St. Sylvester, a kind of devotion that
mingled itself with the barbarity of the times, and
enclosed more than one prince within a cloister.
Thus Rachis, king of the Lombards ; Carloman, bro-
ther of Pepin, and a duke of Aquitaine, had taken
the habit of Benedictine: for, at that time, there
was hardly any other order in the West. Convents
were honorable retreats for those who sought to lead



96 Ancient and Modern History.

a life jof tranquillity ; but these sanctuaries soon
became the prisons of dethroned princes.

Pepin had not exercised a direct sway in nearly
the whole extent of his dominions: he received
homage and tribute only from Aquitaine, Bavaria,
Provence, and Brittany, countries that were newly
conquered. This vast empire was bounded by two
formidable neighboring nations, namely the northern
Germans, and the Saracens. England, conquered
by the Anglo-Saxons, divided into a heptarchy, at
continual war with Albany, called Scotland, as well
as with the Danes, was then destitute of power and
policy ; while Italy, feeble and divided, waited only
until it should fall into the hands of some new
master.

The northern Germans were then distinguished
by the appellation of Saxons, a name that compre-
hended all those nations which inhabited the banks
of the Weser and the Elbe, from Hamburg to
Moravia, and from Mentz to the Baltic. They were
pagans, as were all the natives of the North ; their
manners and customs the same as described in the
time of the Romans. Every canton modelled itself
into a separate republic; but, in time of war, they
elected a chief, or general. Their laws were simple
as their manners, and their religion was brutal. In
extreme danger, they, like all other nations, sacri-
ficed human victims to the divinity; for it is the
character of barbarians to believe the Deity is mal-
evolent: mankind form the idea of a God after



Charlemagne. 97

their own image. The French, though already con-
verted to Christianity, retained this horrible super-
stition in the reign of Theodbert. Human victims
were sacrificed in Italy, according to the account
given by Procopius; and the Jews had sometimes
committed this kind of sacrilege, through excess
of devotion. In other respects those people culti-
vated justice, and placed their glory and their hap-
piness in the enjoyment of liberty. These were the
people who, under the names of Chatti, Cherusci,
and Bructeri, had conquered Varus, and were after-
wards subdued by Germanicus.

Part of this people, in the fifth century, being
invited by the islanders of Great Britain, as auxil-
iaries against the inhabitants of Scotland, subdued
that part of the island which borders upon Scot-
land, and bestowed upon it the name of England.
They had already visited it, even in the third cen-
tury : for, in the reign of Constantine, the coasts of
the island were called the Saxon shore.

Charlemagne, the most ambitious, the most politic
prince, and by far the greatest warrior of his time,
maintained a war for thirty years against the Saxons,
before they were thoroughly subdued. Their country
did not then yield those things which now tempt the
avarice of conquerors : the rich mines of Goslar and
Friedberg, from whence so much silver has been
extracted, were not yet discovered: they were not
known till the reign of Henry the Fowler. There

was no wealth accumulated by a long series of
Vol. 24 7



98 Ancient and Modern History.

industry ; no town worthy of a usurper's ambition.
The sole aim of conquest was, to enslave whole mil-
lions of men who ploughed the ground in an unfa-
vorable climate, fed their flocks, and refused to sub-
mit to the arbitrary will of a master.

The war against the Saxons commenced on
account of a tribute of three hundred horses and
some cows, which Pepin exacted of them ; and this
war continued thirty years. If it be asked what
right the Franks had over the people, I answer:
" The same right as the Saxons had to England."
They must have been wretchedly armed ; for, in the
capitularies of Charlemagne, I find a rigorous pro-
hibition to sell cuirasses to the Saxons. This dif-
ference of arms, reinforced by discipline, which had
enabled the Romans to subdue so many nations, was
likewise the great cause of Charlemagne's triumphs.

The general over the greater part of these nations
was that famous Wittikind, from whom the chief
families of the empire are now said to be descended :
a man who resembled Arminius, but who had more
weakness in his character. Charlemagne at first
took the famous town of Eresburg; for that place
neither deserved the name of a city, nor of a fortress.
He ordered the inhabitants to be put to the sword.
He pillaged, and afterwards razed to the foundation,
the principal temple of the country, formerly built
and consecrated to the god Tantana, the universal
principle, if ever those savages had any idea of a
universal principle : it was then dedicated to the god



Charlemagne. 99

Irminsul, whether this deity was the god of war, the
Ares of the Greeks, the Mars of the Romans; or
whether it was consecrated to the famous Herman, or
Arminius, the conqueror of Varus, and the avenger
of Germanic liberty.

There the priests were massacred on the fragments
of their idol. The victorious army penetrated as far
as the Weser, and all these districts submitted ; but
Charlemagne wanted to bind them to his yoke by the
ties of the Christian religion; while he himself
hastened to the other end of his dominions, to gather
fresh laurels, he left missionaries to convert, and
soldiers to compel them. Almost all that people who
lived near the Weser were, in one year, made Chris-
tians and slaves.

Wittikind had retired among the Danes, who
already trembled for their liberty and their gods;
but, at the expiration of some years, he returned,
re-animated, and re-assembled his countrymen.
Finding in Bremen, the capital of the country that
bears the name, a bishop, a church, and the Saxons
who were dragged in despair to new altars, he
expelled the prelate, who found means to escape and
embark. He destroyed Christianity, which had been
embraced only on compulsion ; he advanced to the
neighborhood of the Rhine, at the head of a multi-
tude of Germans, and defeated the lieutenants of
Charlemagne.

That prince marched thither with great expedi-
tion, and in his turn defeated Wittikind; but he



ioo Ancient and Modern History.

treated this noble effort at liberty as a rebellion. He
demanded of the trembling Saxons that they should
deliver up their general; and understanding they
had allowed him to return to Denmark, he ordered
four thousand five hundred prisoners to be put to
the sword on the banks of the little river Aller. Had
those prisoners been really subjects in rebellion, this
punishment would have been horribly severe; but,
to treat in this manner men who fought for their
liberty and laws, was the action of a robber, who in
other respects, appeared a great man, from his illus-
trious achievements and the most shining qualifi-
cations.

Three other victories were necessary to reduce
this nation wholly under his yoke. At length Chris-
tianity and servitude were cemented with blood.
Wittikind himself, wearied with misfortune, was
obliged to receive baptism, and live ever after tribu-
tary to his conqueror. The king, the better to secure
his conquest, transported Saxon colonies into Italy,
and made French settlements on the lands of the
vanquished. To this policy he added the cruelty
of ordering his spies to stab those Saxons who were
disposed to return to their own worship. We often
read of conquerors who were never cruel but in
war. Peace is productive of mild laws, and gentle
manners. Charlemagne, on the contrary, enacted
laws that retained the inhumanity of his conquests.

Having seen in what manner this conqueror
treated the German idolaters, let us now see how he



Charlemagne. 101

behaved with respect to the Mahometans of Spain.
That had already happened to them, which soon after
appeared in Germany, France, and Italy. The gov-
ernors rendered themselves independent. The emirs
of Saragossa and Barcelona had put themselves
under the protection of Pepin. In the year 778, the
emir of Saragossa came to Paderborn, to entreat
Charlemagne to support him against his sovereign.
The French monarch espoused the cause of this Mus-
sulman; but he took care not to convert him to
Christianity. Different interests require a difference
of conduct. He engaged with an alliance of Sara-
cens against Saracens; but, after some advantages
obtained on the frontiers of Spain, his rear-guard
was defeated at Roncesvalles, near the Pyrenees, by,
the very Christians of those mountains, united with
the Mahometans. It was here that Orlando, the
nephew of Charlemagne, lost his life. This mis-
fortune is the source of those fables, which a monk,
in the eleventh century, wrote in the name of Arch-
bishop Turpin ; fables which were afterwards embel-
lished by the poetical fancy of Ariosto. The pre-
cise time at which Charlemagne sustained this dis-
grace is not known; nor do we find that he ever
avenged his defeat. Content with securing his fron-
tiers against the attempts of enemies who were but
too much inured to war, he grasped at no more than
he could retain, and regulated his ambition according
to the circumstances by which it was favored.



102 Ancient and Modern History.



CHAPTER IX.

CHARLEMAGNE, WHEN RAISED TO THE IMPERIAL
THRONE.

IT was to the possession of Rome, and the empire
of the West, that his ambition aspired. The power
of the Lombard kings was the sole obstacle; the
Church of Rome, and all the churches under his
influence; the monks, who were already powerful,
and the people already governed by the monks, con-
curred in calling Charlemagne to the empire of
Rome. Pope Adrian, a native of that city, a man
of address and fortitude, paved the way. He at
first engaged him to repudiate the daughter of Desi-
derius, king of Lombardy.

The manners and laws of those times were far
from being rigid; at least, with respect to princes.
Charlemagne had married this daughter of the
Lombard king at a time when he is said to have
had another wife alive. Plurality of wives was not
at all uncommon. We are told by Gregory of Tours,
that the kings Gontran, Corbert, Sigebert, and Chil-
peric, indulged themselves in polygamy. Charle-
magne repudiated the daughter of Desiderius, with-
out the least cause or formality. The Lombard king
no sooner perceived this fatal union of Charlemagna
and the pope against him than he laid down a coura-
geous resolution. He determined to surprise Rome,
and make sure of the pope's person ; but the bishop



Charlemagne. 103

was dexterous enough to convert the war into a
negotiation. Charlemagne sent ambassadors to
amuse and gain time : at length he passed the Alps,
and Desiderius was abandoned by part of his own
forces. This unfortunate prince shut himself up
in Pavia, which was his capital; and Charlemagne
undertook the siege of it in the middle of winter.
The city, being reduced to extremity, was surren-
dered after a siege of six months ; and all the terms
Desiderius could obtain, were no more than that his
life would be spared. Thus expired the kingdom
of the Lombards, who had destroyed the Roman
power in Italy, and substituted their own laws in
the rooms of those enacted by the emperors. Desi-
derius, the last of these kings, was conducted into
France, and confined in the monastery of Corbie,
where he lived and died a prisoner and a monk,
while his eldest son made a fruitless voyage to Con-
stantinople to solicit assistance of that phantom of
the Roman Empire, which had been destroyed in the
West by his own ancestors. It must be observed
that Desiderius was not the only sovereign whom
Charlemagne shut up in a cloister : in the same man-
ner he treated a duke of Bavaria, with his children.
Charlemagne dared not yet openly aspire to the
sovereignty of Rome. He assumed no more than
the title of king of Italy, which the Lombards had
enjoyed. In imitation of them, he caused himself
to be crowned in Pavia, with an iron crown, which
is still preserved in the little town of Monza. Jus-



104 Ancient and Modern History.

tire was still administered at Rome, in the name of
the Greek emperor. The popes themselves received
from him the confirmation of their election. Charle-
magne, like his father, Pepin, took nothing more
than the title of Patrician, which Theodoric and
Attila had likewise deigned to bear. Thus, the
name of Emperor, which originally implied no more
than general of an army, still signified the master of
the East and West. Vain as it was, they still
respected it; and affected only that of Patrician,
which formerly meant a senator of Rome.

The popes, who were already powerful in the
church, high in quality in Rome, and possessed of
large territories, enjoyed but a precarious and tot-
tering authority in that city. The prefect, the peo-
ple, and the senate, whose shadow still existed, fre-
quently rose against them t The feuds among fam-
ilies that pretended to the pontificate filled the city
of Rome with confusion.

The two nephews of Adrian conspired against his
successor, Leo III., who was elected pope according
to custom, by the people and clergy of Rome. They
charged him with sundry crimes, and excited the
Romans against him; they dragged him to prison,
and outrageously mangled at Rome the person of that
very pontiff who was so much respected in every
other place. He escaped, and came to Paderborn,
where he threw himself at the feet of Charlemagne,
the Patrician. That prince, who already acted with
absolute authority, sent him back with a guard and



Charlemagne. 105

commissioners to sit upon his trial, who had orders


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