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Pope Gregory II - Appeal to Charles Martel, 739


For some time after the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West, the papacy remained within the Byzantine political sphere. Two developments changed this. The first was the long Iconclastic controversy in the East, in which the popes sided with the iconodules. The other was the inability of the Byzantines to protect the popes. As a result, the popes tunred increasingly in the 8th century towards the Franks and made a series of alliances, in particular, with the Carolingian majors of the palace. Here is a letter of 739 in which Pope Gregory III (731 - 741) appeals to the Frankish ruler Charles Martel for help against the Lombards in Italy.

Pope Gregory to His Most Excellent Son, Karl, Sub-King

In our great affliction we have thought it necessary to write to you a second time, believing that you are a loving son of St. Peter, the prince of apostles, and of ourselves, and that out of reverence for him you would obey our commands to defend the church of God and his chosen people. We can now no longer endure the persecution of the Lombards, for they have taken from St. Peter all his possessions, even those which were given him by you and your fathers. These Lombards hate and oppress us because we sought protection from you; for the same reason also the church of St. Peter is despoiled and desolated by them. But we have intrusted a more complete account of all our woes to your faithful subject, our present messenger, and he will relate them to you. You, oh son, will receive favor from the same prince of apostles here and in the future life in the presence of God, according as you render speedy aid to his church and to us, that all peoples may recognize the faith and love and singleness of purpose which you display in defending St. Peter and us and his chosen people. For by doing this you will attain lasting fame on earth and eternal life in heaven.

 

from Oliver J. Thatcher, and Edgar Holmes McNeal, eds., A Source Book for Medieval History, (New York: Scribners, 1905), p. 102


This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

(c)Paul Halsall Mar 1996
halsall@murray.fordham.edu