We shall now discuss separately the concrete situation of the both the Papacy and the Frankish Kingdom in order to understand such alliance.
The Byzantine Empire (or Byzantium) was the Eastern Roman Empire that existed throughout Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Known simply as the Roman Empire (Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων) by its inhabitants and neighbors, the empire was centered on the capital of Constantinople and was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State.Byzantium, however, was distinct from ancient Rome, in that it was Christian and predominantly Greek-speaking, being influenced by Greek, as opposed to Latin, culture.
As the distinction between "Roman Empire" and "Byzantine Empire" is largely a modern convention, it is not possible to assign a date of separation, but an important point is when Emperor Constantine I's transfer in 324 of the capital from Nicomedia (in Anatolia) to Byzantium on the Bosphorus, which became Constantinople, "City of Constantine" (alternatively "New Rome"= Kaine Rome). The Roman Empire was finally divided in 395 AD after death of Theodosius I, thus this date is also very important if we look upon the Byzantine Empire (or Eastern Roman Empire) as completely separated from the West.
After the Fall of the Western Roman Empire (476), Constantinople (kainé róme) claimed to be the sole ruler of the Roman Empire. Emperor Justinian I (also called the Great) (527-565) of the Byzantine Empire sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost Western half of the classical Roman Empire.The dream of Justinian was renovatio imperii (restoration of the Empire). It means restoring or reclaiming the former territories of the Roman Empire from the hands of its conquerors after 476. This was an ambitious goal and only partially realized.
The RED area in the map on the left comprises the Easrtern half of the Roman Empire (Byzantine) while the YELLOW area was the extent of Justinian I’s renovatio imperii. Only the following territories were restored:
1. The Vandal Kingdom in North Africa was reclaimed by Justinian I’s general Belisarius (ca. 500-565). It extended Roman control to the Atlantic Ocean.
2. Ostrogothic Kingdom, restoring Dalmatia, Sicily, Italy, and Rome to the Empire after being under barbarian control for over half a century. It was reclaimed by Belisarius, Narses, and other generals.
3. Southern Iberia was reclaimed, establishing the province of Spania. The prefect Liberius (ca.545-ca.553) reclaimed it.
The aforementioned campaigns re-established Roman control over the western Mediterranean. Justinian I was able to restore the splendor and Majesty of the Roman Empire even if not all of the former territories were reclaimed. During Justinian I’s reign, Lazica, a region on the east coast of the Black Sea that had never been under Roman rule before, was annexed to the Byzantine empire.
In the 5th century, four forces threatened the Eastern Roman Empire from the outside:
1. SLAVS: Byzantine historiographers under Justinian I (527-565)) described them as tribes emerging from the area of the Carpathian Mountains, the lower Danube and the Black Sea, invading the Danubian provinces of the Eastern Empire.
2. AVAR: The Eurasian Avars or Ancient Avars were a highly organized nomadic confederacy of mixed origins. They were ruled by a khagan, who was surrounded by a tight-knit entourage of nomad warriors, an organization characteristic of Turko-Mongol groups. Although the name Avar first appeared in the mid-fifth century, the Avars of Europe enter the historical scene in the mid-sixth century AD, when they established a pax spanning considerable areas of Central and Eastern Europe.
3. PERSIANS: the old hostilities renewed. In 605, the Sassanids expanded to the Bosphorus. The strategic importance of the Bosporus remains high, and control over it has been an objective of a number of hostilities in modern history. In 615, they claimed the Mediterranean provinces to the borders of Egypt and in 619, occupied Egypt proper.
The Sassanid Empire (dark green) in the map below had territories contested with the East Romans (medium green). Under the rule of Khosrau II, the light green are was also conqured.
In the 6th century, Emperor Heraclius I (610-641) was able to defeat the Persians decisively in a Holy war of 627 at Niniveh.
The Arabs destroyed the old Hellenistic-Roman unity of civilization. The Byzantine Empire was not able to withstand the powerful Arabian drive for expansion and extensive parts of its holdings were lost. Only Constantinople proper was defended successfully in heroic battles over the years (674-678) and thus saved the West from being overrun by the Arabs. From 717-718, they were defeated before Constantinople.
The Caliphate, 622–750
In the face of these formidable threats, it is understandable that Byzantium was no longer able to protect Rome and Italy against the Lombardic attacks. Lombards founded a state in upper italy called Lombardy with its capital Pavia. Spoleto and Benevento already became two Lombardic dukedoms in the immediate vicinity of Rome.
Meanwhile, Ravenna was the became the seat of the Byzantine power in Italy from the end of the 6th century up to 751, when the last exarch was put to death by the Lombards. An exarch was a Byzantine governor with extended authority of a Province. The prevailing situation frequently involved him in military operations
From 592-593, The Lombards besieged Rome and the city could not expect help from Byzantium who was also under the threats of the invaders. Pope Gregory the Great faced the Lombard as Pope Leo the Great faced the barbarians and and was successful. The Lombards withdrew from the city. Soon, Pope Gregory the Great was able to convert Lombards to Catholic Christianity with the help of the Lombard Catholic Queen Theolinda (ca.570-628).
Political tension remained. When King Liutprand (712-744) of the Lombards resumed the old policy of expanding and subjugating all of Italy When Pope Gregory III (731-741) cried for help in vain again, Byzantium could not send troops. The pope [now, Pope Zachary (741-752)] asked help for the first time from the Frankish mayor of the palace, Charles Martel (ca.688-741). However, Charles Martel was an ally of the Lombards. He needed the Lombards against the Arabs who were threatening Southern France. Inevitably, help was denied because of political reasons. Pope Zachary the, could not do anything other than conclude a 20-year peace with King Liutprand.
Peace was also attained during the reign of the Lombard King Rachis (744-749) who eventually entered a monastery in Monte Cassino. The respite ended when King Aistulf (749-756) succeeded Rachis and resumed old plans of conquest.
Pope Stephen II (752-757) cried again for help from the Franks and by this time, the political situation had already. Pepin III (the Short) (+768), son of Charles Martel, heeded the pope’s call.
THE FRANKISH KINGDOM
Mayor of the Palace was an early medieval title and office, also called majordomo, from the Latin title maior domus ("superior of the house"), used most notably in the Frankish kingdoms in the 7th and 8th centuries.
During the 7th century, the office of Mayor of the Palace developed into the true power behind the throne in Austrasia, the northeastern portion of the Kingdom of the Franks under the Merovingian dynasty. The Major Domo held and wielded the real and effective power to make decisions affecting the Kingdom, while in the mid to late Merovingian period, kings had been reduced to performing merely ceremonial functions, which made them little more than nominal kings or figureheads [rois faineants (do-nothing kings)].
The Pippinids (also called Arnulfings) are the members of a family of Frankish nobles who served as Mayors of the Palace, de facto rulers, of the Frankish kingdoms of Neustria and Austrasia that were nominally ruled by the Merovingians. The dynasty is regarded to have been founded by St. Arnulf (582-640) (Hence, Arnulfings), Bishop of Metz in the early 7th century, who wielded a great deal of power and influence in the Merovingian kingdom. Arnulf’s son married St. Begga, the daughter of Pepin of Landen (Pepin I), and their son was Pepin of Heristal. It is from Pepin II's grandfathers that the dynasty receives its earlier (pre-Martel) names: Arnulfing or Pippinid. The dynasty effectively ended with the death of Pepin II , who was succeeded by his illegitimate son, Charles Martel. Pepin had legitimate grandsons at his death, but they failed to win power, and the line died out. Charles Martel went on to found a new line of the family, which historians named the Carolingian dynasty after Martel.
Charles Martel (714-741) defeated the Arabs at the Battle of Tours and Poitiers (732). He held the uncontested leadership of the whole Frankish state. He saved Europe from Islam by decisively defeating the moslems in 711. he also destroyed the Visigothic kingdom, and had already conquered southern France. He was called “The Hammer”, the uncrowned king of the West. He had two sons who ruled as powerful dictators, Carloman (741-747) and Pepin III (the short) (741-768). The former entered the monastery and renounced public life. Therefore, latter became the sole ruler. Austrasia and Neustria (Western part of the Merovingian Frankish Kingdom) were reunited in one kingdom under Pepin the short who took the crown of the Merovingians in 751 to establish the line of Carolingian kings.
Pepin the short required a higher authority to justify his lack of bloodline in taking the crown which could only be supplied by the Pope whose authority had been increased since the work of Wynfrith Boniface. He asked Pope Zachary’s consented who in turn supported him. Pepin the short convoked the Diet of Soissons (751-752) and had elected himself king of the Franks.
First, Wynfrith Boniface laid the foundation of the league of the Papacy with the Frankish Kingdom. Remember that his mission to the Germans was under the protection of the Franks and with the blessing of the Pope. Then, the Franks turned to Rome for greater authority. Now, the papacy, despite numerous tensions had continued to look toward Byzantium, now dissolved its ties with the East and turned completely to the West for help. Pope Stephen II’s call was heeded by Pepin the short. The Franks, a former ally of the Lombards, will now fight the Lombards for the Papacy. There was a separation of the papacy from the Byzantine Empire. All these marked an epochal change in European history.
The alliance between the papacy and the Franks was concluded on January 7, 754 at PONTHION.Pepin the short promised two things: the help against the threats of Aistulf and the rest of the Lombards; and the “return” of areas conquered by the Lombards (esp Ravenna). Remember that there were lands (ie Exarchate of Ravenna) belonging to Byzantium which the Lombards conquered. It may mean conflict if the Lombards give these territories back to Rome. All these, the Franks dedicated to Rome, not to Byzantium.
The Diet of Quierzy (754) resolved to protect against the Lombards. Pepin the short formally promised Pope Stephen II the territories of central Italy (ie Tuscany, Ravenna, Venice, Istria, Spoleto and Benevento). These would be the nucleus of the future papal states.
In the same year, peaceful negotiation with Aistulf failed that led to his eventual defeat. Aistulf rose again after two years but was completely subjugated. The promise of returning the land to the pope now posed many questions. Byzantium had the legal claims of those lands. The Byzantines’ argument was derived from Constantine the Great himself who made Constantinople heir of the ancient Roman Empire. The Byzantine Empire was not only claiming Rome and Ravenna as Roman imperial territory but basically all Italy and the West. So, they accused the alliance of the poe with the Franks as treason. The Eastern Roman Empire had been the de facto claimant of the Roman Empire after the Fall of the West (476) since the 6th to the 8th centuries.
In the face of these ancient byzantine claims, the Pope needed to present a more powerful argument. The Donatio Constantini proved to be the one. The Donation of Constantine is a forged Roman imperial decree by which the emperor the Great supposedly transferred the authority over Rome and the western part of the Roman Empire to the pope. When Constantine transferred his residence from Rome to Byzantium (Constantinople) around 330, he allegedly ceded to Pope Sylvester I (313-335) the whole western half of the empire. It is based on a 5th century Sylvester legend. According to the invented narrative, Emperor Constantine attributed his miraculous cure from leprosy to pope Sylvester I and in return he transferred the control over Rome and the West to the pope. The intention for this forgery is to protect the papacy against Byzantium’s claim and to guarantee its political and ecclesiastical independence in the West. During the Middle Ages, the document was often cited in support of the Roman Church's claims to spiritual and earthly authority.
In the 11th century. Italian humanist Lorenzo Valla and the other humanists are credited with first exposing the forgery with solid philological arguments, although doubts on the document's authenticity had already been cast by this time. Scholars have since dated the forgery between the eighth and ninth centuries. It is not clear however who fabricated such forgery. It can either be fabricated in the chancellories of Stephen II or Paul I. The place of its creation is not attainable as well.
The Donatio Constantini became the legal justification for the Church in Rome. It underscored the papal primacy and the universal dominion of the popes.
In the year 754 as well, after the pope called for help and the Franks responded to crush the Lombards, Pope Stephen II repeated the anointing of Pepin the Short and his sons Carloman and Charles [see family tree; different from the previous persons of the same name.] and awarded them the title Patricius Romanorum. This title could normally be awarded only by the Byzantine emperor. It meant something when the pope gave this title to the Franks. It means a total non-recognition of the rights of the Byzantine Empire. The task of the Patricius Romanorum is to guarantee the protection of the western Church.
Pepin the short’s son Carloman (+771) died early and his son Charles assumed even greater power when he was crowned emperor in 800, thus becoming one of the most prominent figures in European history. He was called Charles the Great or Charlemagne (768-814).