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to the throne, presented the Lombard kingdom with its first Catholic
king, and had thus done her part to secure the future.

Of these three powers those of Ravenna and Rome were, of course, by
far the more important; for indeed the conversion of the Lombards was,
rightly understood, but a part of the work of Gregory. Yet though both
were working for the same end they did not always propose to march by
the same road. In 592, for instance, the pope, seeing Naples the
capital of the little isolated duchy upon his southern flank very hard
pressed, proposed at all costs to relieve it; but the exarch Romanus,
perhaps seeing further, was not to be moved to the assistance of the
peasants of Campania from the all-important business of the defence of
central Italy and the Flaminian Way, the line of communication between
Ravenna and Rome. He proposed to let Naples look after itself and at
all costs to hold Perugia. Gregory, however, who claimed in an
indignant letter of this date (592) to be "far superior in place and
dignity" to the exarch, proceeded to save Naples by making a sort of
peace with the Lombard duchy of Spoleto. It is possible that this
peace saw the Lombard established in Perugia, which was the Roman key,
till now always in Roman hands, of the great line of communication
between Rome and Ravenna. However that may be, Gregory's peace not
only aroused great anger in Constantinople, but brought Romanus
quickly south with an army to re-occupy Perugia, Orte, Todi, Ameria,
and various other cities of Umbria. But Romanus had been right. His
movement southward alarmed Agilulf, who immediately left Pavia, and
crossing the Apennines, we may suppose,[1] as Totila had done,
threatened Rome itself. Then, however, he had to face something more
formidable than an imperial army. Upon the steps of S. Peter's church
stood the Vicegerent of God, great S. Gregory, who alone turned him
back and saved the city.

[Footnote 1: All that Paulus Diaconus, _Hist. Lang_. lib. iv. cap. 8,
says is: "Hac etiam tempestate Romanus Patricius et Exarchus Ravennae
Romam properavit. Qui dum Ravennam revertitur retenuit civitates, quae
a Langobardis tenebantur, quarum ista sunt nomma: Sutrium, Polimartium
Hortas, Tuder, Ameria, Perusia, Luceolis et alias quasdam civitates.
Quod factum cum regi Agilulfo nunciatum esset statim Ticino egressus
cum valido exercitu civitatem Perusium petiit ..."]

The truth of all this would appear to be that Gregory was really
working for peace. The Lombards were in a fair way to becoming
Catholic, and as such they were no longer really dangerous to Italy.
The real danger was, as the pope saw, the prolongation of a useless
war. Two years later, in 595, we find Gregory writing to the
"assessor" of the exarch enjoining peace. "Know then that Agilulf,
king of the Lombards, is not unwilling to make a general peace, if my
lord the patrician is of the same mood.... How necessary such a peace
is to all of us you know well. Act therefore with your usual wisdom,
that the most excellent exarch may be induced to come in to this
proposal without delay, and may not prove himself to be the one
obstacle to a peace so expedient for the state. If he will not
consent, Agilulf again promises to make a separate peace with us; but
we know that in that case several islands and other places will
necessarily be lost. Let the exarch then consider these points, and
hasten to make peace, that we may at least have a little interval in
which we may enjoy a moderate amount of rest, and with the Lord's help
may recruit the strength of the republic for future resistance."[1]

[Footnote 1: Gregory, _Ep_. v. 36 (34), trs. Hodgkin, _op. cit_. v. p.

It is obvious from this letter that the pope and the emperor no longer
understood one another, and it is not surprising that the one thought
the other a fool and told him so. Doubtless the emperor recalled the
long and finally successful war against the Ostrogoths, in which
Belisarius had always refused, not only terms of peace other than
unconditional surrender, but even to treat. That policy had been, at
least from the point of view of Constantinople, successful. From the
point of view of the papacy and of Italy, it had had a more doubtful
result, but the fact that the Ostrogoths were Arians had satisfied
perhaps both, and certainly the papacy, that a truce could not be
thought of.

From the imperial point of view things remained much the same in the
Lombard war as they had been in the war with the Ostrogoths. From the
papal and Italian point of view they were very different. To begin
with, the Lombards were fast accepting the Catholic Faith, and then if
Italy had suffered in the Ostrogothic wars, which were everywhere
eagerly contested by Constantinople, what was she suffering now when
the greater part of the country was open to a continual and an almost
unopposed attack? "You think me a fool," the pope wrote to the
emperor. In Ravenna the papal envoy was lampooned and laughed at. Then
in the end of 596 the exarch Romanus died.

Romanus was succeeded by Callinicus (Gallicinus) in whom the pope
found a more congenial and perhaps a more reasonable spirit. By 598 an
armistice had been officially concluded between the imperialists and
the Lombards, and at length in 599, after some foolish delays in which
it would appear that the pope was not without blame, a peace was
concluded. Gregory, however, for all his reluctance at the last, had
won his way. Henceforth it would be impossible to regard the Lombards
as mere invaders after the pattern of their predecessors, Visigoths,
Vandals, Huns, and Ostrogoths. They were, or would shortly be, a
Catholic people; they held a very great part of Italy; they had
entered into a treaty with the emperor not as _foederati_ but as
equals and conquerors. Gregory the Great had permanently established
the barbarians in Italy, and in his act, the act be it remembered of
the apostle of the English, of the apostle of the Lombards, we seem to
see the shadowy power that had been Leo's by the Mincio suddenly
appear, a new glory in the world. The new power in the West, the
papacy, which thus shines forth really for the first time in the acts
of Gregory, unlike the empire, whether Roman or Byzantine, will know
no frontiers, but will go into all the world and compel men to come in
as its divine commission ordained.

In Italy from the time of the peace with the Lombards (599) onwards
what we see is the decline of the imperial power of Constantinople and
the rise of the papacy. And this was brought about not only by the
circumstances in which Italy and the West found themselves, but also
by the character of the imperial government.

When Justin II. disappeared in 578, and made way for Tiberius II., he
was already a madman, and though Tiberius was renowned for his
virtues, he reigned but four years, and in 582 Maurice the Cappadocian
sat upon the throne of Justinian and ruled for twenty years not
unwisely, but, so far as Italy was concerned, without success. It was
he who was at last brought to make peace with the Lombards and thus
for the first time to acknowledge a barbarian state independent of the
empire in Italy. He and his children were all murdered in 602 by
Phocas, a centurion, whose shame and crimes and cruelties doubtless
did much to weaken the moral power of the empire face to face with the

The peace of 599, the usurpation of Phocas in 602, and the death of
Gregory the Great in 604, close a great period and stamp the seventh
century in its very beginning with a new character.

That character is in a sense almost wholly disastrous. Those vague and
gloomy years, of which we know so little, are almost unrelieved in
their hopeless confusion. It is true that Italy had found a champion
in the papacy which would one day restore the empire in the West, as
Justinian himself had not been able to do; it is true that already
Arianism was defeated if not stamped out. But it is in the seventh
century that Mahometanism, the greater successor of the Arian heresy,
first appears; and it is in the seventh century that it first becomes
certain that East and West are philosophically and politically
different and irreconcilable. The whole period is full of disasters,
and is as we may think the darkest hour before the dawn.

As I have said, the history of those disastrous years is everywhere in
the West vague and confused, and this is not least so in Italy and

Ravenna as always remains the citadel of the imperialists in Italy and
the West, and as such we must regard her, passing in review as well as
we may those miserable years in which she played so great and so
difficult a part.

When the Emperor Maurice was assassinated with his family in the year
602, Callinicus was, as we have seen, exarch in Ravenna, but with the
usurpation of Phocas that Smaragdus who had already been exarch and
had been recalled, perhaps for his too great violence, in 589, was
again appointed. He seems to have ruled from 602 to 611. In the last
year of the government of Callinicus an attempt had been made by the
exarch to force the Lombards to renew the two years' peace established
in 599, and on better terms, by the seizure of a daughter of
Agilulf's, then in Parma, with her husband. They were carried off to
Ravenna. But the imperialists got nothing by their treachery. Agilulf
at once moved against Padua and took it and rased it to the ground. In
the following year Monselice also fell to his arms, and though after
the murder of the emperor Maurice in 602 the exarch Callinicus, the
author of the abduction, fell, and Smaragdus was appointed by Phocas,
the hostages were not returned, and in July 603, Agilulf, after a
campaign of less than three months, had possessed himself of Cremona,
Mantua, and Vulturina, and probably of most of those places which the
imperialists had re-occupied in Cisalpine Gaul in 590. Smaragdus was
forced to make peace and to give up his hostages. The peace he made,
which left Agilulf in possession of all the cities he had taken, was
to endure for eighteen months, but it seems to have been renewed from
year to year, and when in 610 Phocas was assassinated and with the
accession of Heraclius (610-641) Smaragdus was again recalled and
Joannes appointed to Ravenna, the same policy seems to have been

Joannes Lemigius Thrax, as Rubeus, the sixteenth-century historian of
Ravenna, calls him, ruled in Ravenna from 611 to 615, and in the
latter year was assassinated there apparently in the midst of a
popular rising, though what this really was we do not know. His
successor, the eunuch Eleutherius (616-620), seems to have found the
now fragmentary imperial state in Italy in utter confusion, and indeed
on the verge of dissolution. Naples had been usurped by a certain
Joannes of Compsa, perhaps "a wealthy Samnite landowner," who
proclaimed himself lord there, and it is obvious that even in Ravenna
there was grave discontent. Eleutherius soon disposed of the usurper
of Naples, but only to find himself faced by a renewal of the Lombard
war, which he seems to have prevented by consenting to pay the yearly
tribute which perhaps Gregory the Great had promised when he made a
separate peace with the Lombard in 593, when Rome was practically in
the hands of the barbarian. It was obvious that the imperial cause was
failing. That the exarch thought so is obvious from the fact that in
619 he actually assumed the diadem and proclaimed himself emperor in
Ravenna, and set out with an army along the Flaminian Way for Rome to
get himself crowned by the pope Boniface V. But the eunuch was before
his time; moreover, he was a defeated and not a victorious general. At
Luceoli upon the Flaminian Way, not far from Gualdo Tadino where
Narses had broken Totila, in that glorious place his own soldiers slew
him and sent his head to Heraclius.

Of his immediate successor we know nothing - not even his name,[1] but
in or about 625 Isaac the Armenian was appointed and he ruled, as his
epitaph tells us, for eighteen years (625-644). Isaac's rule was not
fortunate for the imperialists. He is probably to be acquitted of the
murder of Taso, Lombard duke of Tuscia, but it is certain that
Rothari, the Lombard king in his time, "took all the cities of the
Romans which are situated on the sea-coast from Luna in Tuscany to the
boundary of the Franks; also he took and destroyed Opitergium, a city
between Treviso and Friuli, and with the Romans of Ravenna he fought
at the river of Aemilia which is called Scultenna (Panaro). In this
fight 8000 fell on the Roman side, the rest fleeing away."[2]

[Footnote 1: Mr. Hodgkin (_op. cit_. vi. 157) suggests that the
predecessor of Isaac was that Euselnus who, as ambassador for
Constantinople, persuaded, or is said to have persuaded, Adalwald,
King of the Lombards since the death of his father, Agilulf (615), to
slay all his chief men and nobles, and to hand over the Lombard
kingdom to the empire; but was poisoned, it is suggested, by Isaac in
Ravenna, whither he had fled when he had killed twelve among them.
Ariwald succeeded him (625).]

[Footnote 2: Paulus Diaconus, cf. Hodgkin, vi. 168.]


Nor was this all. It is in Isaac's time that the growing jealousy of
the empire in regard to the papacy for the first time breaks into
flame. Isaac, who as exarch had the right to "approve" the election of
the pope, on the accession of Severinus (638) sent Maurice his
_chartularius_ to Rome as his ambassador. This Maurice it seems was
eager against the papal power, and finding an opportunity in Rome
suddenly seized the Lateran and its wealth at the head of "the Roman
army," and wrote to Isaac that he might come and enjoy the spoil. The
exarch presently arrived in Rome, resided in the Lateran during eight
days, banished the cardinals, and proceeded to steal everything he
could lay his hands on in the name of the emperor, to whom he sent a
part of the booty. A little later Maurice attempted to repeat his
rape, but doubtless hoping to enrich himself he began by repudiating
Isaac, who then dealt with him, had him brought northward, and
beheaded at a place called Ficulae, twelve miles from Ravenna; but
before he could decide what punishment to mete out to Maurice's
accomplices the exarch himself died, "smitten," as it was said, "by
God," and the exarchate was filled apparently by Theodore Calliopas

Theodore Calliopas was twice exarch. Of his first administration we
know nothing at all; but in 646 he was succeeded by Plato (646-649),
whose name we learn from a letter of the emperor Constans II. to his
successor Olympius (649-652), who had been imperial chamberlain in
Constantinople. Theodore Calliopas was then again appointed and ruled
in Ravenna for eleven years (653-664).

We have seen the empire and the papacy politically at enmity and
certainly bent on attaining different political ends in Italy and the
West, and this is emphasised by the economic condition of Italy which
the empire taxed heavily. Philosophically Constantinople had never
perhaps been very eagerly Catholic - or must one say papal? But now at
this dangerous moment a doctrine definitely heretical was to be
officially adopted there and supported by emperor and patriarch with
insistance and perhaps enthusiasm. Heraclius, the grandfather of
Constans II., had asserted the Monothelete heresy which maintained
that although Christ had two distinct natures yet He had but one
_Will_ - his human will being merged in the divine. The patriarch of
Constantinople, always jealous of the popes, eagerly upheld this
doctrine which the papacy continually and consistently denounced. Now
Constans II. cared for none of these things. He refused to allow that
either pope or patriarch was right, but as though he had been living
in the sixteenth instead of the seventh century gravely announced that
"the sacred Scriptures, the works of the Fathers, the Decrees of the
five General Councils are enough for us;" and asked: "Why should men
seek to go beyond these?" Roundly he refused to allow the question to
be either supported or attacked.

Now the whole of the West was very heartily with the pope in
sentiment; but save for the bishops of Italy he stood alone against
the great patriarchates of the East. Nevertheless, he refused to be
silent and to obey the emperor. Therefore Olympius, Constans'
chamberlain in 649, came to Italy as exarch with orders to arrest the
pope and bring him to Constantinople: this it seemed to him a prudent
thing to do; he was to judge for himself. Olympius decided it was not
a prudent thing to do. He found the Italian bishops and the people
eagerly Catholic. There is a story that he attempted instead to take
the pope's life as he said Mass, but this is probably untrue, for we
find pope and exarch presently excellent friends. He went on into
Sicily to meet the first invasion of the Saracens in that island, and
died there of the pestilence.

Theodore Calliopas was appointed exarch for the second time as his
successor in 652. He had either less sagacity or less scruple than his
predecessor, for in the following year he appeared with an army in
Rome. He found the pope ill and in bed before the high altar of S.
John Lateran. He surrounded the church and entered it with his men,
who were guilty of violence and desecration. But the pope, to save
bloodshed, surrendered himself to the exarch, shouting as he emerged
from the church, "Anathema to all who say that Martin has changed a
jot or tittle of the Faith Anathema to all who do not remain in his
orthodox Faith even to the death." Through the tumultuous and weeping
city the pope passed to the palace of the exarch upon the Palatine
Hill. He entered it a prisoner and was presently smuggled away on
board ship to Constantinople, where he was examined and condemned to
death, insulted in the Hippodrome, and his sentence commuted to
imprisonment and exile to Cherson, where he died in 655.

The controversy slumbered. Before long, surely to the amazement of the
West, the emperor landed in Italy at Tarentum with the object of
finally dealing with the Lombards, for Rothari was dead. It is said he
asked some hermit there in the south: "Shall I vanquish and hold down
the nation of the Lombards which now dwelleth in Italy?" The answer
was as follows, and, rightly understood, contained at least the
fundamental part of the truth: "The nation of the Lombards," said the
hermit after a night of prayer, "cannot be overcome because a pious
queen coming from a foreign land has built a church in honour of S.
John Baptist who therefore pleads without ceasing for that people. But
a time will come when that sanctuary will be held in contempt, and
then the nation shall perish."[1]

[Footnote 1: Diaconus. v. 6; cf. Hodgkin, _op. cit_. vi. 272. Paulus
adds that the prophecy was fulfilled when adulterous and vile priests
were ordained in the church at Monza and the Lombards fell before

That prophecy contained the fundamental truth that since the Lombards
were Catholic it was not possible to turn them out of Italy. But
Constans heeded it not. He marched on, besieged Beneventum, was not
successful, and went on to Rome, and himself spoiled the City. From
Rome he returned southward to Naples and Sicily, where in 668 he died.

All that time Gregory was exarch. He had succeeded Theodore Calliopas
in 664, and he ruled till 677. We know little of him save that he
appears to have attempted to confirm Maurus, archbishop of Ravenna, in
his "independence" of the Papal See.[1] This Maurus was undoubtedly a
schismatic and Agnellus tells us that he had many troubles with the
Holy See and many altercations. Indeed the position of the archbishop
of Ravenna can never have been a very enviable one and especially at
this time when the breach between pope and emperor, papacy and empire,
was continually widening. Always the archbishop of Ravenna, as the
bishop of the imperial citadel in Italy, must have been tempted to
follow the emperor rather than the pope, and more especially since,
personally, he might expect to gain both in power and wealth that way.

[Footnote 1: That was the "Privilegium," whatever it was worth and
whatever exactly it meant, conferred by Constans II. Constantine
Pogonatus, the successor of Constans, is still to be seen in S.
Apollinare in Classe the "Privilegium" in his hands in mosaic. See
_infra_, p. 208.]

The exarch Gregory was succeeded apparently by a certain Theodore
whose contemporary archbishop in Ravenna was also a Theodore. He ruled
it seems for ten years, 677-687, and built near his palace an oratory,
or a monastery, not far from the church of S. Martin (S. Apollinare
Nuovo), and was, according to Agnellus, a pious man, presenting three
golden chalices to the church in Ravenna and composing the differences
of his namesake the archbishop and his clergy.

Theodore in his turn was succeeded by Joannes Platyn (687-701). Two
years before his appointment in 685 Justinian II. (685-695) had
succeeded to the imperial throne, and in that same year pope Benedict
II. died. John V. succeeded him and reigned for a few months, when
there followed two disputed elections, those of Conon and of Sergius.
In the latter Joannes Platyn the exarch played a miserable and
disastrous part. For he suddenly appeared in Rome as the partisan of
Paschal, the rival of Sergius, who had obtained his support by a
promise of one hundred pounds of gold if he would help him to the
papal throne. On his advent in Rome, however, the exarch found that he
must abandon Paschal and consent to the election of Sergius, in which
all concurred. He refused, however, to abandon his bribe which he now
demanded of the new pope. Sergius replied that he had never promised
anything to the exarch and that he could not pay the sum demanded. And
he brought forth in the sight of the people the holy vessels of S.
Peter, saying these were all he had. As the pope doubtless intended,
the Romans were enraged against the exarch, the money was scraped
together, and the holy vessels rescued.

In all this we see the growing distrust and hatred of Constantinople,
which the taxation had first aroused on the part of the Italian people
and their champion the papacy. These feelings were to be crystallised
by the extraordinary and tactless council that the emperor convened in
691, in which the empire attempted to avenge the defeat it had
sustained at the hands of the papacy in regard to the Monothelete
heresy. The council, which was mainly concerned with discipline,
altogether disregarded Western custom and the See of Rome, and
especially asserted that "the patriarchal throne of Constantinople
should enjoy the same privileges as that of Old Rome, and in all
ecclesiastical matters should be entitled to the same pre-eminence and
should count as second after it." The pope promptly forbade the
publication of the decrees of this council which he had refused to
sign. Then the emperor sent a truculent soldier, one Zacharias, to
Rome with orders to seize Sergius and bring him to Constantinople as
Martin had been arrested and dragged away. It only needed this to make
the whole situation clear once and for all.

For it was not only the people of Rome who rose to prevent this
outrageous act. When Zacharias landed in Ravenna, the citadel of the
empire in Italy, the "army of Ravenna," no longer perhaps Byzantine
mercenaries, but Italians, mutinied and determined to march to Rome to
defend the pope. As they marched down the Flaminian Way, the soldiers
of the Pentapolis joined them, a Holy War, a revolution, declared
itself, and for this end: "We will not suffer the Pontiff of the
Apostolic See to be carried to Constantinople." This curious mob of
soldiers, gathering force and recruits as it marched with songs and
shouting down the Way, hurled itself against the walls of the Eternal
City, battered down the gate of S. Peter which Zacharias, afraid and
in tears, had ordered to be closed, and demanded to see the pope who
was believed to have been spirited away in the night on board a
Byzantine ship like his predecessor Martin. Zacharias took refuge
under the pope's bed, and Sergius showed himself upon the balcony of
the Lateran and was received with the wildest enthusiasm.

In that revolution was destroyed all hope of the Byzantine empire in
Italy. A new vision had suddenly appeared to those whom we may call,
and rightly now, the Italian people. The long resurrection of the
West, the greatest miracle of the papacy, was upon that day secured

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