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superior vehemence and audacity of the Roman champions brought over to their side. Colman and the Scots withdrew from England, and the pure light of Iona paled before the worldly glare of Rome.14
The warlike Lombards ever ravaging the neighbourhood and threatening the city of Rome, and the Greek exarchs of Ravenna often in conflict with the Roman bishops, did not impair their spiritual allurement. Oppressed by the fierce familiarity of their Lombard neighbours, they rejoiced in the reverence of the distant Franks, and in the still devouter veneration of the yet remoter Saxons. Many monarchs came on pilgrimage from the far West, and more than one English king received baptism or assumed the cowl at Rome.15
As the Roman bishops had taken no harm from the curtailment of Christendom by the Arabs towards the East and South, they drew direct and signal benefit from its extension towards the North. The conversion of nations became more and more advantageous to them. In attempting the conversion of England, Gregory the Great mainly sought a spiritual conquest. In the conversion of Germany, more than a century later, Gregory II. and Gregory III. welcomed a papal acquisition. The Italian Angustine and his companions, who landed in Kent in 596, were missionaries from Rome. The English Winifred or Boniface and his countrymen who about 720 began to preach in Germany, must, notwithstanding many high endowments and much spiritual fervour, be regarded as emissaries of Rome. From Rome Boniface sought his commission; at Rome he swore subjection to Pope Gregory and his successors; more than once he renewed the vow, and thrust upon others the submission professed by himself. He took the style and title of a legate of the Roman See, and combined the life of a missionary and the death of a martyr with the part of a
14 Beda, 1. iv. c. 25. The Roman champion Wilfred, a great and troublesome churchman of that time, boldly invoked the authority of Peter in favour of the Roman view of points which the apostle had never considered. As both Wilfred and his opponent Colman agreed that Christ had given the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter, King Oswy took a personal and prudential view of the matter, and professed himself unwilling to offend the doorkeeper of heaven. A man of great energy and ability, though beneath his brother Oswald in virtue, Oswy perhaps hoped that this act of personal deference for St. Peter might induce oblivion of a great crime which had given him an earthly kingdom-the murder of Oswin, king of Deira.
15 The fierce warrior Ceadwalla and the wise lawgiver Ina, both kings of Wessex (Beda, 1. v. c. 7).
Roman champion. The conquests of the Franks in Germany greatly furthered his work. He followed in the track of Charles Martel, Carloman, and Pepin, and subjected the regions opened by their victorious arms. Rome waxed stronger for these combined labours of the Frankish conquerors and the English missionaries.16 Boniface holds at once a lofty and an ignoble place in ecclesiastical history; the apostle of Germany stands forth as a great and pernicious innovator in Christendom. By him for the first time obedience to the Roman bishop was preached as a solemn duty and doctrine as essential as obedience to Christ. He first carried about with the Gospel the novelty of the papal supremacy-a novelty by no means at once or even readily admitted in theory or established in practice, but which slowly made way and grew at last into the papal monarchy. Singularly enough, Germany, which first put on the papal yoke, was the first to throw it off. The land which bowed before Boniface produced Luther and originated the Reformation, just as the land which gave birth to Boniface gave birth to Wycliffe and finally accepted the Reformation. While Italy, France, Spain, and Ireland, which received Christianity independently of Rome, stubbornly clave to the Papacy, England converted from Rome, and Germany converted for Rome, eagerly renounced the popedom and faithfully upheld the Reformation.17
At the very time that the Roman See took this huge stride towards spiritual supremacy, it also made a great advance towards political independence and power. The conversion of Germany was contemporaneous with its revolt against the Eastern emperors, its alliance with the kings of France, and its earliest territorial acquisitions. Gregory II. and Gregory III., the senders-forth and patrons of Boniface, are chiefly famous as champions of image-worship and as successful rebels against the imperial iconoclasts of Constantinople. While defending one corruption they introduced another; idolatrous pontiffs became secular princes. Degenerate Christianity was preyed upon by a swarm of corruptions; its degeneracy into idolatry hastened its degeneracy into a kingdom of this world. The
16 Epistolæ S. Bonifacii, Moguntiæ, 1605, pp. 163 et seq. Baronius, an. 719, n. 1 et seq. ; ́an. 723, n. 1 et seq.; an. 731, n. 8–19; an. 741, n. 30 et seq.; an. 751, n. 5 et seq.; an. 755, n. 37-57. Wilibaldus, de S. Bonifacio, apud Epistolas.
17 Baronius (an. 723, n. 19; an. 731, n. 19) touchingly bewails the Reformation as a piece of special ingratitude no less than of impiety, and upbraids the Germans of his day with the enormity of their revolt against that papacy which converted their forefathers.
mighty protest of Mohammedanism against idolatry, the irresistible valour and marvellous triumphs of the image-hating and image-breaking Arabs, had not failed to impress the simpler and selecter souls of Christendom. They beheld in these victories of the idol-breaking misbelievers the judgment of God upon the reappearance of idolatry in His Church, turned with wrath and abhorrence from that image-worship which He so utterly abhorred and had so solemnly forbidden, and burned to put away the sin and to arrest the chastisement of Christendom. These convictions strongly possessed the soul of a simple and earnest mountaineer, a peasant of Isauria, and a valiant soldier, Leo, whom courage, conduct, and good fortune raised from dignity to dignity until they set him upon the imperial throne of Constantinople (716). The same valour, wisdom, and earnestness which he brought to the rescue of the sinking empire, rent by civil war and overwhelmed by Mohammedan invasion, he afterwards brought to the purification of the polluted Church from the stain of idol-worship. The repulse and rout of the Saracen host which had beleaguered Constantinople for three years (715-718), deepened his convictions and confirmed his resolution. To him, the sworn foe of idolatry, it had been given to inflict their first great defeat upon the Mohammedan conquerors; he set himself strenuously to cleanse the faith which God had protected by his hand. In 726 he began the warfare against images, first banished them from the churches, and then had them broken and burned, and after a fierce struggle with the monks and the mob, for whom the darkness of the time had made image-worship the dearest and most important part of religion, enforced their destruction in Constantinople and throughout the East.
But in Italy the devotion to images was still stronger, and the imperial authority was far weaker. A man of vigour and ability occupied the Roman chair. In Gregory II. the popular passion found a powerful exponent, and the imperial iconoclast encountered a formidable champion of idolatry. Gregory upbraided and resisted Leo, and at last defied and disowned his unbending sovereign, withheld the tribute, and withdrew the allegiance of Italy, 728.18 The Romans clave to their bishop and
18 Vita et Epistolæ Gregorii II. et III., apud Conciliorum tomum xvii., Paris, 1644. Baronius, an. 726, n. 1 et seq. The two long letters which Gregory II. inflicted upon his sovereign are striking specimens of pontifical objurgation (an. 726, n. 30). Paulus Diaconus (Historia Miscellæ, 1. xxi.) raves against Leo and Constantine.
their idols; Rome became practically independent, with her bishop for her real if not her recognised ruler; while Leo and his still more zealous son, Constantine Copronymus, baffled in the West, were fain to satisfy themselves with breaking images and vanquishing rebellious image-worshippers in the East. Alone in the long dull series of Byzantine Cæsars, these Isaurian iconoclasts retain any lively hold upon the memory and affections of men. Assertors of a sublime and immortal spiritual principle, opponents of a deep-rooted and potent popular passion, they have lived alike in the love and hatred of posterity. Upholders of a cause unpopular in their own day, but which, more than seven centuries afterwards, won a wide and signal triumph, they have, if overwhelmed with obloquy by the darkness of their own time, secured the applause of a distant and enlightened age. The Reformation raised up mightier iconoclasts, and furnished the Byzantine image-breakers with admirers and panegyrists no less zealous than their Romish detractors and assailants. Their deeds have been outdone; the term of reproach which distinguished them has grown into a title of honour, and Milton uttered the mind of his fellow-Protestants when he mingled scorn and abhorrence of the rebellious and idolatrous popes with pride and joy in the imperial iconoclasts. 19
With this political triumph over the Byzantine Cæsars, and this spiritual triumph which Boniface won for it in Germany, the first period of the papacy came to an end, the first act of the papal drama may be said to have closed. Aggrandised by the fall of the Western Empire and the invasion of the Teutons, the bishopric of Rome put forth a distinctly papal character about the beginning of the seventh century at the death of Gregory the Great, who was the last true Roman pastor. The grant of Phocas, without being in the least exaggerated, may be fairly taken as the starting-point in the history of the popedom (606).
The whole period from the sixth to the middle of the eighth century, from the destruction of the Western Empire to the severance from the Eastern Empire, ministered to the aggrandisement of the Roman See, and to the growth of nothing else save and except Islam. It found civilisation sinking, and left it submerged; it found the light of intellect feeble and flickering, and left the world in almost total darkness; it found Chris
19 Eikonoklastes, preface.
tianity somewhat degenerate and left it intensely corrupt; it found Paganism prostrate and left Mohammedanism triumphant; it found the Roman bishop an obedient subject of the Roman Empire and a simple officer of the Christian Church, and left him politically independent and spiritually supreme, almost a prince and very much of a pontiff.