The Donation of Constantine

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Following Paucapalea, the elaboration of the idea of the Donation continued almost without a break.

We learn this through a variety of written sources, at the end of the presentation of which Fried also treats the symbolic representation, and its possible effects, of the Donation idea. In so doing, he shows how by this time the Donatio had become common -- even if not universally accepted -- knowledge, only very rarely contested by scholars. Furthermore, this paved the way for further elaboration and distortion. Fried also clearly underlines how the text of the original Constitutum Constantini was nearly never used as a source, not even by Lorenzo Valla, who drew up an analysis of the fictitious character of the Donation-idea.

In the first part of the fourth chapter 'The wording and meaning of the " Constitutum Constantini "' Fried makes a case for the Frankish origin of the Constitutum Constantini , which has often been attributed to the eighth-century Roman papal court.


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He does this through a very straightforward analysis of the text's wording and style, providing ample and, as far as this reviewer can judge, convincing evidence to suggest that the text, even though its 'style' was quite 'Roman', might well have originated in Frankish territory.

Fried presents evidence contained in, among others, a series of papal letters which were available in Frankish territory and which show resemblances with some aspects of the Constitutum , constructing his case around the notions of dicio and potestas. He also points out other interesting linguistic and juridical peculiarities, which allow him to suggest that the original Constitutum concerned aspects of ecclesiastic law. Thus the text is to be interpreted as a document confirming papal earthly power over Rome and its surroundings, but only spiritual and ecclesiastic, that is patriarchal, authority over the West, as opposed to the Frankish emperors' secular authority.

The author concludes: 'non-Roman powers were at work here. They were not interested in extending or reflecting on papal authority, but in restricting the borders of the emperor's power within the context of current Frankish supremacy' p.

The fifth chapter 'The origin of the Constitutum Constantini ' continues to provide elements supporting the thesis of a non-Roman origin of the Constitutum. Suggesting that the text could very well be a reflection of the Carolingian divisio regnorum , Fried also states that it contains elements which were well-known in Frankish territory, and that, on the contrary, elements which could only have been known to a writer intimate with the Roman papal court are remarkably absent. This, and a number of other arguments e silentio , precede an illustration of some further linguistic as well as practical peculiarities.

At the end of the chapter we then get a foretaste of what is to follow, namely the suggestion that the Constitutum could very well have originated in the monasteries of Corbie and St. In the sixth chapter the reader first of all is presented with a study of the Palatium Lateranense , which is mentioned a couple of times in the Constitutum Constantini.

Donation of Constantine - Ancient History Encyclopedia

After an extensive analysis of the possible physical orientation of this 'palace', as well as of the dubious usage of the words Palatium Lateranense , Fried stresses, among others, the fact that at the time of the forgery which he situates mid-ninth century no one in Rome referred to the Patriarchium Lateranense as the Palatium Lateranense -- this would in fact create confusion and refer to two distinct buildings, not one -- and on the other hand suggests that this would not have been unusual in non-Roman, Frankish contexts, where the word Palatium was in common use.

In so doing, he adds another element to his plea in favour of the Frankish origins of the Constitutum Constantini. The monasteries of Corbie and St. Associations of the faithful. Institute of consecrated life. Society of apostolic life. It has been suggested that an early draft of the Donation of Constantine was made shortly after the middle of the 8th century, in order to assist Pope Stephen II in his negotiations with Pepin the Short , who then held the position of Mayor of the Palace i. In one study, an attempt was made at dating the forgery to the 9th century, and placing its composition at Corbie Abbey , in northern France.

Mediaevalist Johannes Fried draws a distinction between the Donation of Constantine and an earlier, equally forged version, the Constitutum Constantini , which was included in the collection of forged documents, the False Decretals , compiled in the later half of the ninth century. Fried argues the Donation is a later expansion of the much shorter Constitutum.

Coleman understands the mention in the Constitutum of a donation of "the western regions" to refer to Lombardy, Venetia, and Istria. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the forged imperial decree.

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The Donation of Constantine

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Procedural law. Legal practice and scholarship. Law of consecrated life. Catholicism portal Italy portal Vatican City portal. Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. By the time of the Council of Nicea, in the middle of both Constantine's reign and Sylvester's tenure as bishop, Christians were still quite used to avoiding the pomp and circumstance of secular government. Tertullian had written a tract explaining why Christians don't wear crowns De Corona just a century earlier.

Even as late as the Council of Nicea itself, Christians were forbidden military service Canon The Donation goes on to say that Constantine led a horse with the pope on it.

It says he was baptized in Rome by Sylvester and that he was cured of leprosy when it happened. Basically, in every way, it claims that Constantine gave Sylvester, bishop of Rome, all the pomp and authority that popes had in medieval times. Even the Roman Catholics admit it's a forgery. I even got a lot of the description of the Donation of Constantine itself from the Catholic Encyclopedia. Such a document would go nowhere today, but in medieval times, disparagingly but accurately called The Dark Ages which is generally what a religious government will provide , it was easy to pass it off as true.

The Donation of Constantine: History and Forgery

It's not really known when this document was created. Best guess is between and It was not exposed until , when Lorenzo Valla's writings exposed it. Accessed Nov. Tired of paying a thousand dollars for a new cell phone, when you could help a missionary feed children for a week with that money? Only at Smarter-Phone. Return to Roman Catholicism. Home Contact Me. Privacy Policy. In Forgotten Gospel, Matthew Bryan gives you the scriptural basis for the Kingdom Gospel and guidance for implementing it in your life.