« PrethodnaNastavi »
perhaps by overtures from a disloyal party in the island, Charles seems to have formed a design upon Sicily, and in A.D. 800 it was known at Constantinople that he intended to attack the island;1 but his unexpected coronation led him to abandon his design.
Unexpected; when the diadem was placed on his head in St. Peter's on Christmas Day, and he was acclaimed Imperator by the Romans, he was not only taken by surprise, but even vexed.2 The Pope, who performed the coronation, was merely in the secret; he consented to, but he did not initiate, a scheme, which was far from being obviously conducive to the interests of pontifical policy. It has been shown that the scheme was conceived and carried through by friends and counsellors of the king, who were enthusiastic admirers of their master as a conqueror and a statesman. In poems and letters, these men-Alcuin, Theodulf, Angilbert, Paulinus, Arno ---ventilated, as we may say, the Imperial idea, not formulating it in direct phrases, but allusively suggesting it. Thus Angilbert wrote:
Rex Karolus, caput orbis, amor populique decusque,
It was not enough for the authors of the scheme to assure themselves of the co-operation of Pope Leo, for they were sufficiently versed in the Imperial theory to know that the constitutional legitimacy of a Roman Emperor depended not on his coronation but on his election. It was essential to observe the constitutional form: the Emperor must be acclaimed by the Roman Senate, and army, and people. There was no Senate in the old sense, but the term senatus was applied to the Roman nobles, and this sufficed for the purpose. There were soldiers and there was a populace.
1 The evidence (cp. Harnack, 40) is : Ann. r. F., s. a. 799, an envoy of Michael, the governor of Sicily, visited Charles and was dismissed with great honour; Theoph., s.a. 800, Charles was crowned καὶ βουληθεὶς κατὰ Σικελίαν παρατάξασθαι στόλῳ μετεβλήθη ; Ann. r. F., s.a. 811, Leo, a spathar, a Sicilian, fled to Charles at Rome in 801, and remained with him till 811, when peace was concluded between the Empires.
2 Einhard, Vita Karoli, 28.
3 By Kleinclausz, L'Empire carolingien, 169-192. On the general aspect of the event consult Bryce, Holy Roman Empire.
4 Poetae Latini aevi Karolini, ed. Dümmler, i. 368, vv. 92-94. Cp. Alcuin, Ep. 174 (Epp. Kar. aev. pp. 288-289).
5 See Kleinclausz, 196.
was necessary to prepare the Romans for an exercise of sovran authority, which had long ceased to be familiar to them. When they assembled in the Church of St. Peter to celebrate mass on Christmas Day, there was perhaps no one in the great concourse except Charles himself, who was unaware of the imminent event. When the Pope placed the crown on the head of the King, who was kneeling in prayer, the congregation the Senate, and the Roman people-acclaimed him three times, "Life and victory to Charles, Augustus, crowned by God, great and pacific Emperor of the Romans." The Pope, who had simply fulfilled the same function as a Patriarch of Constantinople in a similar case, fell down and adored him as a subject.
If the first emotions of the new Emperor, who had thus been taken unawares, were mixed with anxiety and disquiet, one of the chief causes of his misgiving was probably the ambiguous attitude which he now occupied in regard to Constantinople. The legitimacy of the Emperors who ruled in the East as the successors of Constantine had never been questioned in Europe; it had been acknowledged by Charles himself; it was above all cavil or dispute. The election of Charles-it mattered not whether at Rome or elsewherewithout the consent of the sovran at Constantinople was formally a usurpation. It was all very well to disguise or justify the usurpation by the theory that the Imperial throne had been vacant since the deposition of Constantine VI., because a woman was incapable of exercising the Imperial sovranty; but such an argument would not be accepted in Byzantium, and would perhaps carry little weight anywhere. Nor would Irene reign for ever; she would be succeeded by a man, whose Imperial title would be indisputable. Charles saw that, elected though he was by the Romans and crowned by the Pope, his own title as Roman Imperator and Augustus could only become perfectly valid if he were recognised as a colleague by the autocrat of Constantinople. There are many "empires" in the world to-day; but in those days men could only conceive of one, the Roman imperium, which was single
1 Ann. r. F., s.a. 801, p. 112.
2 Ann. Laureshamenses (M.G.H., Scr. i.), p 38: quia iam tunc
cessabat de parte Graecorum nomen imperatoris et femineum imperium apud se abebant."
and indivisible; two Roman Empires were unimaginable.1 There might be more than the one Emperor; but these others could only be legitimate and constitutional if they stood to him in a collegial relation. If, then, the lord of Constantinople, whose Imperial title was above contention, refused to acknowledge the lord of Rome as an Imperial colleague, the claim of Charles was logically condemned as illegitimate.
That Charles felt the ambiguity of his position keenly is proved by his acts. To conciliate Constantinople, and obtain recognition there, became a principal object of his policy. He began by relinquishing the expedition which he had planned against Sicily. A year later (very early in 802) he received at Aachen envoys from Irene. The message which they bore is unknown, but when they returned home they were accompanied by ambassadors from Charles, who were instructed to lay before the Empress a proposal of marriage.2 It is said that Irene was herself disposed to entertain the offer favourably, and to acquiesce in the idea of a union between the two realms, which would have restored the Empire to something like its ancient limits. The scheme was a menace to the independence of the East, and Irene's ministers must have regarded it with profound distrust. They had no mind to submit to the rule of a German, who would inevitably have attempted to impose upon Byzantium one of his sons as successor. The influence of the patrician Aetius hindered Irene from assenting,3 and before the Frankish ambassadors left the city they witnessed her fall. This catastrophe put an end to a plan which, even if it had led to a merely nominal union of the two States, would have immensely strengthened the position of Charles by legalising, in a signal way, his Imperial election. It was, however, a plan which was in any case doomed to failure; the Greeks would never I have suffered its accomplishment.
Nicephorus, soon after his accession, sent an embassy with some proposals to Charles. We do not know what the points at issue were, but Charles agreed, and at the same time wrote
1 The theory is quite consistent with the convenient expression orientale et occidentale imperium, which first occurs in the letter of Charles to Michael I. See Harnack, 55.
2 Ann. r. F., s.a. 802. Theoph., A. M. 6294.
3 "Indem Aetius die Vermälung verhinderte, rettete er die Selbstständigkeit des Ostens" (Harnack, 43).
a letter to the Emperor.1 This letter is not preserved, but we may conjecture, with high probability, that its purport was to induce Nicephorus to recognise the Imperial dignity of the writer.2 Nicephorus did not deign to reply, and peace between the two powers was again suspended (A.D. 803). Active hostilities soon broke out, of which Venetia was the cause and the scene.
We are accustomed, by a convenient anticipation, to use the name Venice or Venetia in speaking of the chief city of the lagoons long before it was thus restricted. For it was not till the thirteenth century that "Venice" came to be specially applied to the islands of the Rialto, nor was it till the ninth century that the Rialto became the political capital. Venetia meant the whole territory of the lagoon state from the Brenta to the Isonzo. Till the middle of the eighth century the centre of government had been Heracliana 3 on the Piave, which had taken the place of Oderzo when that city (c. 640) was captured by the Lombards. No traces remain to-day of the place of Heracliana, which sank beneath the marshes, even as its flourishing neighbour Jesolo, which was also peopled by fugitives from Oderzo and Altino, has been covered over by the sands. In A.D. 742—an epoch in the history of Venicethe direct government of the Venetian province by Masters of Soldiers was exchanged for the government of locally elected Dukes, and at the same time the seat of office was transferred from Heracliana to the island of Malamocco. The noble families of Heracliana and Jesolo followed the governor, in such numbers that Malamocco could not hold them, and the overflow streamed into the islands known as Rivus Altusthe Rialto. The first consequence of this movement was the foundation of a bishopric in the northern island, the see of Olivolo, which has been signalized as the first act in the foundation of the city of Venice.*
But Malamocco, the seat of government and the residence of the prominent families, was not the centre of commerce or the
seat of ecclesiastical power. The northern lagoon-city of Grado, originally built as a port for Aquileia, was the residence of the Patriarch, and doubtless surpassed in the luxuries of civilization, as it certainly excelled in artistic splendour, the secular capitals Heracliana and Malamocco. For the superabundance of wealth at this time was in the coffers of the Church.1
The centre of trade was Torcello, well protected in the northern corner of the lagoons, and it did not surrender to the Rialto its position as the great Venetian market-place till the tenth or eleventh century. The home products which the Venetians exported consisted chiefly in salt and fish, and their only native industry seems to have been basket-work. The commercial importance of Venice in these early ages lay in its serving as a market-place between the East and the West; and its possession had for Constantinople a similar value to that of Cherson in the Euxine. Greek merchants brought to Torcello the rich products of the East-silk, purple, and linen -peacocks, wines, articles of luxury; and Venetian traders distributed these in Italy, Gaul, and Germany. The Greek exports were paid for by wood, and metals, and slaves. The traffic in slaves, with Greeks and Saracens, was actively prosecuted by the merchants notwithstanding the prohibitions of the Dukes.2
The Dukes remained unswervingly loyal to the Empire throughout the eighth century. In A.D. 778 the Duke Maurice introduced into the Dukedom the principle of co-regency, similar to that which was customary in the Imperial office itself; he appointed his son as a colleague, and this was a step towards hereditary succession. This innovation must have received the Emperor's sanction; Maurice was invested with the dignities of stratêlatês and hypatos, and his official title ran, magister militum, consul et imperialis dux Venetiarum provinciae.3
The Italian conquest of Charles the Great and his advance
1 Kretschmayr, 80 sqq. For the cathedral Basilica of Grado, built in the last quarter of the sixth century, see Rivoira (Lombardic Architecture, i. 94-95), who considers it-as well as the small adjacent Church of Sta. Maria delle Grazie- as "probably a work of the School of Ravenna, with
contributory help from Greek carvers." The capitals of the columns of the nave are Byzantine.
2 Ib. 76-97.
3 Cp. Kretschmayr, 51. I take it that mag. mil. translates the title στρατηλάτης, conferred διὰ βραβείου.