He takes time-out to deride the forged Donation of Constantine
. Pagan religion was bound to lose the contest with Christianity; but did it have to be so violently repressed?
Christian soldiers seized Rome in the eighth century after the Donation of Constantine
was inflicted and incorporated into the False Decretals (CE1907 vol.
An Interest in unpacking the text of the Bible and Lorenzo Valla's dissection of "The Donation of Constantine
" are included in Chapter 7, "Humanism and Religion." Bernardino Ochino's "Dialogue about the Thief on the Cross" draws on mystical and reform traditions.
Perhaps the most famous of these is the Donation of Constantine
. This document purported to be from the Emperor Constantine and gave authority of Rome and the western part of the empire to the Pope.
Thanks to the myth of the Donation of Constantine
of honouring the Pope with the emperor's honours and all the adornments of an Emperor, the diadem, the phrygium, the shoulder scarf, the purple cloak and the red tunic and the sceptre were taken over by the Church leaders.
The book is accessible and occasionally even humorous--regarding suspect relics, "who but a heretic could doubt so plain a divine endorsement"--but explanatory footnotes identifying Charlemagne, Cicero, and the Donation of Constantine
are unnecessary in a book primarily aimed at specialists (166).
(9) Andre Vauchez, Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages (London: Routledge, 2001), 445; Johannes Fried, Donation of Constantine
and Constitutum Constantini: The Misinterpretation of a Fiction And Its Original Meaning (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2007).
By the same token, Valla's arguments in The Falsely Believed and forged Donation of Constantine
(1440) (2), which has been contested by both Dante and Nicholas of Cusa on moral grounds, discredits papal claims to temporal power by an aggressively philological analysis of the text.
In Lorenzo Valla's On the Donation of Constantine
(1440), Bowersock provides a new translation in company with the Latin text established by Wofram Setz for Monumenta Germaniae Historical (1976).
As an appendix to this argument, Humbert produced the spurious Donation of Constantine
, which gave almost unlimited power to popes.
In her discussion of the early modern scholarship on TF, Whealey shows that skepticism was sometimes due to the spirit of criticism of ancient sources that led to the discovery of fraudulent documents such as the Donation of Constantine
. Some of the skepticism also derived from questions about the existence of Jesus since the Enlightenment.
The Donation of Constantine
has fidelity as evidence about medieval church-state relations, but not about Constantine's relations with the Church.