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RESPONSE PAPER 6 - Until then the ecclesiastical authority...

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RESPONSE PAPER 6 The Donation of Constantine The understanding when the pope made Pepin the official ruler of the Frankish kingdom was clearly that he, in return, would get the Papal States. However, the church doubtlessly wanted to solidify its claim to this land without showing a dependency to the new Carolingian dynasty. The Donation of Constantine fits the bill perfectly, so it’s no surprise that it’s assumed to have been written between 750 and 850. Were there no previous record of the church’s having official rule over the Papal States, Pepin’s giving them to the pope would seem an act of charity. While the pope was undeniably the Carolingian king’s vassal, this would be a poor image for a man who is supposed to be a direct link to God. Someone that holy could hardly bear to be beholden to an earthly king. What’s amazing about the Donation is how long the church was able to uphold it. Evidently, it wasn’t until the early 17 th century that the church admitted its forgery.
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Unformatted text preview: Until then, the ecclesiastical authority was immovable in its support of the Donation as completely true. This is somewhat impressive, considered the ridiculous proportions of the text. Even if one were to ignore the numerous anachronisms, the fact remains that the pope supposedly rids Constantine of leprosy through baptism. But perhaps this should not be surprising, as the church must have had some ability to legitimize historical texts if not just because most historians at the time were also beholden to the church. Monks, especially, devoted a great deal of their lives to the chronicling of history, so it’s quite likely that only the higher-ups in the church had the resources or education to check whether these histories were true. The rest of the empire probably had to assume that the church was telling the truth, both because they had no way to contest it and because a conflict with the church would have been a difficult and futile endeavor....
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