Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Government backed: beginning of HRE

The good news is that I found my church history book and can blog about it again.  The bad news is that I'll write more about issues in the Church in general.

In this chapter, we see the beginning of one of the biggest mistakes, asking the government to back your church.  In about 590, the Eastern Orthodox church obeyed whatever their governments told them while the Roman Church wanted to keep Christian theology pure.  However, they also desired a unified government for protection.  At that time, the Franks had the most unity.  The pope made an alliance with them.

The Frankish empire became baptized under Clovis.  His wife persuaded him to become a Christian, and his little empire backed up Rome in all political endeavors.  Clovis's sons could not rule like he could, so the Merovingian dynasty soon gave way to their servants, the major domos, or mayors of the palace.

Pepin of Heristal, their mayor of the palace, organized their household when Clovis's descendants failed to rule the empire, and he made his position hereditary; his sons would succeed into his position as mayor of the palace.

Pepin's son, Charles Martel took this position in 714.  He defeated the Muslims at Tours, saving the Rhineland from Islamization.  Therefore, the papacy owed allegiance to him.  He unified the Teutons into his empire and baptized them.

His son, Pepin the Short, was the first to declare himself king of the Franks, the first Carolingian king.  He conquered the Lombards who wanted to take over Rome, and he won the current lands of the Vatican, which has been theirs until Italy's unification.  Pope Stephen II re-kinged him in thanks.  This is called the Donation of Pepin, and through the years, it became the Donation of Constantine through what the Franks added to it.

His son, Charlemagne, continued to rule the lands and help the pope.  He went to church as a tradition, but he also had mistresses and concubines along with his wife.  However, he knew how to lead and held the kingdom together.  One time, Pope Leo III was going to be executed, so he sought refuge under Charlemagne.  The king came back to Rome and cleared Leo of his charges.  On Christmas in 800, as Charlemagne knelt at the altar, Leo crowned him as emperor of the new Roman Empire.  The universal Church was now united to a universal government, at least in word.  They were not united spiritually.  Charlemagne considered the church to be the soul and the state to be the body, and thought that they should be separated.

They soon bickered over who had ultimate power: did God assign the emperor to the people, or did the Church appoint him?  They eventually decided that the rulers were under the authority of the Pope.  Charlemagne died in 814, and his sons could not keep the empire together.  The Treaty of Verdun officially separated France and Germany in 843, but the Holy Roman Empire was a recognized entity until 1804.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Church held back the Muslims while Rome tried to rebuild its empire.  Charlemagne wanted to reunited with him, even by marrying their empress Irene.  She said no, and the Eastern church debated over icons.  The Pope and the King both opposed icon worship, but the Second Council of Nicaea approved of their veneration in 787.  However, the eastern rulers could not prevent the Muslims from conquering the Mediterranean lands on the south, creating three distinct groups within the former Roman empire: Roman, Eastern, and Muslim.

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