Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/103

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IS CROWNED 89

earth from the gravest attacks that had been made upon it, transferred the moral responsibility for the solution of this dark affair to the person of the accused, treated the plaintiffs justly and mercifully alike, and stood before the humbled Pope as his judging sovereign.

On the same day, the 23d of December, monks of Jerusalem (where the Caliph of Bagdad now lorded it over the Christians) paid homage to the King of the Franks and in the name of the Patriarchs of Con- stantinople sent him a flag and the keys of Jerusalem and the holy places. Therewith the Church of the East requested the protection of the bulwark of all Christendom. What more did Charlemagne need to become all-powerful in lands professing the Christian name? Two days later the Pope surprised him with a Christmas gift just as he was rising from prayer at the grave of the Apostles: it was the Im- perial crown. The jubilant acclamation of the people was directed to this most pious Augustus, the great Emperor, whom God had crowned and who would bring peace. Before him Leo genuflected in homage, according to the Byzantine custom. Through this sudden occurrence the Roman-German Empire came into being.

We of the present do not know what caused the Pope to act thus or what role the ruler who was crowned played in the matter. There are witnesses who assert that Charlemagne had not wanted such a crown at all. It is usually said that neither Pope nor Emperor was accorded a status essentially different, and that die balance of power remained what it had been. That may be true, but the strongest force in history is not the mere event but the response which men make to that event. Though Charlemagne did not actually possess more or consider himself more after he had obtained the Imperial crown, Christendom as a whole received, because of that crown, a deeper con- ception of the dignity of its protector and a new reason for believing that the old Empire had been transferred to the Franks in accordance with the will of Providence. Certainly the Papacy gained whether the monarch did or not. The fact that the Pope acted as one who bestowed the crown surrounded him with an aura of supernal power regardless of whether the monarch was informed in advance of the coronation or whether it came as a surprise to him. In the eyes of the world the Papacy was now identified with the idea that the temporal power received its loftiest consecration and confirmation from the


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