Second, “Virtual History” and the Model Relationship between Politics and Religion
The relationship between the empire and the church has always been an important issue in the writing of medieval European history. The infighting between the church and the empire has never disappeared, and people’s thinking on the relationship between the two has also continued to ferment. The Chronicle of the Emperor, which has a strong imperial concept, “fictitious” an idealized relationship between politics and religion by depicting the cooperation between the emperor and the pope in its historical construction, trying to take this fictitious model as a real history and become an example for later generations to follow. This practice embodies a strong color of reconciliation. It not only regards the development from the Roman Empire to the Holy Roman Empire as an endless whole, but also regards the church and empire as a natural coexistence whole. This strong reconciliation thought is also consistent with the basic views of successive bishops of Regensburg Diocese and Bavarian aristocrats since the middle of the 12th century.
In order to reconcile the relationship between the empire and the church and even distort historical facts, this writing method is quite different from other chronicles or political works in the heyday of the Middle Ages, especially from Latin “official history”. It is not only quite different from the records of some events, but also interspersed with many legendary brushwork. Behind this paradox is precisely the historical concept of the author of the Emperor’s Chronicle, which highlights the historical value of this document. The author selects three groups of representative relationships between emperors and popes to analyze in order to outline the historical concepts and deep writing intentions to be conveyed in the Chronicle of Emperors.
(1) The Pope as the Guide of the Emperor: Constantine and Sylvester
The description of Constantine in the Chronicle of the Emperor not only reflects the ideal paradigm of the relationship between politics and religion, but also shows the author’s regionalism tendency. One of its anti-Christian traditional historiography narratives described Constantine’s mother Helena as a Trier and skillfully endowed Constantine, the “greatest Christian emperor of the Roman Empire”, with German blood. The account of Constantine’s baptism follows the “Constantine Decree” (Constitutum Constantini), saying that in his dream he was guided by the apostles of St. Peter and St. Paul to seek Pope Sylvester to heal him and predicted that the Pope would become Constantine’s “spiritual father.” Constantine’s illness recovered immediately after baptism, he immediately announced his conversion to Christianity, and from then on “wolf became sheep.”
In the description of this group of relationships, the Chronicle of the Emperor especially highlights the pope’s role as the emperor’s guide. The seven mass seven days after Constantine was baptized echoed the seven-day sacrifice of Roman pagan belief at the beginning of the Chronicle of the Emperor. On the one hand, it reflected the Christianization of the Roman Empire; On the other hand, it also became the beginning of Constantine as monarch and Sylvester as church leader to jointly govern the empire. After the baptism, Constantine ordered all Romans not to worship any evil gods, destroyed pagan temples and statues in Rome, and declared that anyone who worships pagan gods O was an enemy of the monarch and the Romans. After the seventh day of Mass, the emperor and the pope, “the two warriors of the Lord came to the court cabinet, where they completed the laws of the Empire.” In this part of the description, the author brings the historical environment of his writing into the Roman Empire, saying that the king called his vassals and asked them to defend the church and the Christian kingdom, and vowed to bring peace to farmers and businessmen. Finally, on the seventh day after Constantine was baptized, the Pope took on the responsibility of “educating the king” and “put a colorful crown on his head”. It was from this time that Constantine was removed from the “king” (chuonich) renamed “Emperor” (cheiser). Through the description of these seven days, the Chronicle of the Emperor vividly presents the Christianization process of the Roman Empire, and at the same time draws the current relationship between the church and the empire back to the “golden age” of the Roman Empire with “era disorder” and literary rhetoric, which plays a role of borrowing the past and comparing the present.
Judging from the writing intention, it is repeatedly stressed here that the Pope should become the “spiritual father” of the king, which clearly shows the mode of the emperor and the Pope ruling the world together, which is extremely rare in the previous medieval documents. What is most eye-poping is that the author even listed a separate chapter for Pope Sylvester, regarded him as the ruler of the Roman Empire like the emperor, and put forward a brand-new explanation for the “Constantine Decree”. The “Constantine Decree” was used to explain that Constantine had given the Western Empire to the Pope’s jurisdiction during the political and religious disputes, giving the Pope the power to surpass the secular monarch. In fact, this document aroused many doubts before it was falsified by Lorenzo Valla in the 15th century. Otto of Flessing once wrote in a very skeptical tone that if Constantine really entrusted the Western Empire to the Pope, how could he divide the Empire among his sons?
According to the Records of the Emperor, because of the famine in Rome, Constantine decided to lead some people to the place guided by angels to establish a new capital, so he entrusted the Western Empire to the care of the Pope until he returned again. Constantine said:
Dear father and master, people are looking forward to me. Now is the time when I must leave you. I will entrust the whole empire to you until the day I come back. Master, I have complete trust in you. It will be very expensive for you to buy food, but I will attribute the tax revenue of the whole empire to your authority. Because of my reverence for the true God, this will enable you to take good care of my people.
Since Constantine himself did not return to Rome, the entire empire naturally fell under the jurisdiction of the Pope. This part of the narration has very obvious elements of fiction and imagination, but the author of the Chronicle of the Emperor hopes to show the exemplary image of the relationship between politics and religion through this fictional history. Only in this way can the coronation of Charlemagne mentioned later have legitimacy, because although the center of gravity of the empire has shifted to the west, the inheritance of the imperial system has not been interrupted, and since the pope has shared the sovereignty of the empire, he also enjoys the power to transfer the legal system of the empire.
(2) The Emperor as the Protector of the Pope: Charlemagne and Leo III
If the pope became the spiritual father and guide of the emperor in the above group of emperor-pope relations, then the relationship between Charlemagne and Leo III reflects the dependence of religious power on the protection of imperial power, and the king represented by Charlemagne is depicted as a devout believer and defender of the church.
Charlemagne’s proclamation is of great significance to the legitimacy of the Holy Roman Empire and the inheritance of the emperor system. In Latin history, Charlemagne’s coronation was an important symbol of the return of imperial power from Constantinople to the West. Otto of Fleisin wrote:
In the 801st year after my Lord was born, In 1552 years after the city was established, Charles, in the thirty-third year of his rule, He was promoted to the position of defender by the high priest and was called Emperor and Augustus. He was the 69th since Augustus. Therefore, the rule over the Romans, from Constantine until this time, was centered on the imperial city, that is, Constantinople, and now turned to the Franks.
Charlemagne’s coronation was regarded by Otto as an important node in dividing history, and this understanding also reflected Otto’s “Empire Transfer” (translatio imperii) in Otto’s view, the Roman Empire was the last empire in the history of the world. The sovereignty in this empire clearly shifted between Byzantine, Frankish and Germanic. Byzantine, Carolingian and Otto (Holy Rome) empires were different stages in the continuation of the Roman Empire.
However, the historical concept of Emperor Chronicle is different from Otto’s. When talking about the division of the East and West Roman Empires, the book has an important detail, saying that after Constantine VI was assassinated by members of the Senate, “the Roman Empire was separated from the Greek Empire”, and the Greeks could not “claim the sovereignty of the Empire and become arbiters, nor would they enjoy any imperial glory”. In other words, the imperial authority remained in the West after that, which laid the groundwork for Charlemagne to inherit the imperial legal system. Therefore, at the beginning of the Charlemagne chapter of the Chronicle of the Emperor, it is said:
The Empire still did not have a head of state. They placed the crown on St. Peter’s altar. All the Roman nobles gathered together and vowed in front of the people that they would never choose another leader from the previous families because these families had proved that they could not maintain their relationship with these people (nobles) faithfully and honourably.
This passage of writing actually reflects the writing dilemma faced by the author of the Chronicle of the Emperor: if Byzantium continues to enjoy the imperial power of the Roman Empire, how can the legitimacy of Charlemagne’s power be explained? The concept of “imperial transfer” is not clearly reflected in the Chronicle of Emperors, which emphasizes that Byzantine emperors have been harming the interests of the Romans. In the historical construction of the Chronicle of the Emperor, the imperial power symbolized by the crown was sealed in the “Altar of St. Peter”, that is, in the hands of the church, which closely linked the previous account of Constantine’s gift with Charlemagne’s legitimacy as emperor. In order to continue to model this relationship between politics and religion, the Chronicle of the Emperor once again adopted the method of “fictitious history”.
First of all, the author not only once again described Charlemagne’s mother as Bavarian, showing a strong regionalist tendency, but also said that Charlemagne and Leo III were both biological brothers of Piping, who grew up in Aachen and Rome respectively and became kings and popes one after another. Secondly, the common interference of providence in medieval history writing also appeared repeatedly, but the difference was that Charlemagne, as the monarch, rather than the pope, was the recipient of providence. Ernst Ollie points out that these “interventions of transcendental divine will” (Einbruch des transzendentengöttlicHen Willens) is to say that tomorrow the Lord will directly interfere in human affairs and human history through Charlemagne, thus strengthening the sanctity of secular kingship.
In the description of the Chronicle of the Emperor, Charlemagne was instructed by God to help Leo clear the obstacles to his election as Pope. After Leo was betrayed and blinded by Roman nobles, Charlemagne was called to “defend Christianity with his own sword”. Most notably, Charlemagne also threatened St. Peter as a saint in the Roman church, saying that if St. Peter could not cure Leo immediately, he would “destroy your cathedral (referring to St. Peter) and destroy all the buildings and lands dedicated to you, and then I will leave him (referring to Pope Leo) blindly to you”. After Leo’s miraculous recovery that day, Charlemagne “lay down on the ground with his limbs stretched out like a cross” to express gratitude in the gesture of Christ’s suffering. The description of this legend reflects the interference and even persecution of monarchical power to religious power through subtle writing. It not only embodies the idea of taking the king as the representative of Christ in the early Middle Ages, but also forms a sharp contrast with the above model between Constantine and Sylvester, and reflects the attitude of the historical writing in the heyday of the Middle Ages towards the transformation of the relationship between politics and religion in the early Middle Ages.
As a result, this history mixed with legends became a narrative of the king’s protection and purge of the church, which reached its climax when Charlemagne re-legislated for the empire. Charlemagne not only “became the first Roman emperor from Germanic land”, but also because angels “told him the wisdom of the Lord”, he legislated here as a king on behalf of God. Charlemagne first dealt with matters involving bishops and priests, which in his view was the noblest and most important matter, but was “seriously ignored by Constantine’s laws”. The second is the tithe tax and the church reward law to ensure the church’s right to dispose of these sacrificia. However, paradoxically, the following article does not elaborate on these laws and regulations, but abruptly turns to the restriction on farmers’ clothing color. The author’s deliberate blankness here is that he does not want to clearly divide the power scope and specific management methods of the church and the empire, so as to avoid attacks on his works by any party, which is also in line with his reconciliation position throughout the whole text.
Judging from the relationship between the above two groups of emperors and popes, the author of the Chronicle of Emperors tries hard to describe the exemplary cooperation mode between the empire and the church, and shows a progressive nature. Constantine’s chapters more reflect the process of the pope’s enlightenment of the emperor and the Christianization of the Roman Empire, while Charlemagne’s saint image emphasizes the emperor as the defender and even the savior of the church, revealing the subtle transformation of the relationship between the royal power and the religious power in Western Europe since Carolingian era. Although the relationship between the main and supporting roles has been exchanged, on the whole, the above two groups of emperor-pope relations are depicted in the Chronicle of Emperors as historical models of mutual cooperation and peaceful coexistence between the church and the empire.
(3) Hidden and Falsified History: Henry IV and Henry V Period
In addition to the imagination of the past “golden age”, a prominent feature of the Chronicle of the Emperor is that it selectively ignores the conflicts between politics and religion that are relatively close to the times and difficult to give a reasonable explanation, so as to dilute the conflicts between politics and religion. This feature is especially reflected in the reign of Henry IV and Henry V, when the conflict between politics and religion was the most intense in the history of Western Europe.
On the whole, the Chronicle of the Emperor has a rather negative evaluation of Henry IV, but paradoxically, this chapter depicts Godfrey von Bouillon, the military leader of the Crusades, and does not record at all events such as the emperor’s dismissal and Canosa’s audience. Even the names of Pope Gregory VII and opposing King Rudolf von Rheinfelden are not mentioned. The author of the Chronicle of the Emperor should know these important events, but he deliberately concealed this period of history in the book and even tampered with many facts, expressing the crisis of the legitimacy of imperial power brought about by the political and religious disputes in a hidden way, and reflecting his intention to repair it through historical writing.
Especially in the relationship between Henry IV and Henry V, the records in the Chronicle of the Emperor are quite different from those in Latin historical materials at that time. The Chronicle of the Emperor implicitly said that Henry IV was captured by the enemy while hunting in Apulia, and the imperial nobles elected Henry V to inherit the empire in Bonn. After escaping from the enemy, Henry IV went to Rome and was crowned emperor. He was defeated by his son in Regensburg and abdicated. Although Henry V won the support of Bavarian nobles, he was boycotted by bishops, even saying that the pope demanded that all subjects of the empire should not be loyal to the new emperor. Moreover, the Chronicle of the Emperor explicitly condemned an archbishop named Albrecht because he suggested that Henry V lead the army to Rome and force him to coronate Henry V by hijacking the pope. Therefore, this act of “trespassing on the throne” has resulted in “division between clergy and peaceful believers”. It was not until Henry IV died and Henry V completely gave up the right to appoint bishops that the Pope finally agreed to coronate him in Rome. In the end, the bishop was condemned, and many bishops were also saddened by the revolt of their sons against their fathers in the royal family.
This rather interesting narration shows that people had two completely different understandings of Henry IV at that time, and also shows different interpretations of this important event by Latin “official history” and Bavarian dialect and common history. Henry IV was punished five times by three popes and was portrayed as an enemy of the church and even an incarnation of antichrists in pro-pope propaganda. In the 12th century, an anonymous bard in South Germany praised Henry IV with the poem “Which Charlie or Louis has won such honor and which Otto has received such special blessing”, believing that the emperor reformed the church, purged discipline and brought peace to the kingdom with his natural divine power.
From this description, we can see more clearly that the Chronicle of the Emperor maintains a consistent imperial concept and is more inclined to the views of the pro-emperor camp in this period. This is also due to multiple reasons in the specific historical context. First of all, the church reform in the 11th century began with Pope Leo IX appointed by Henry III. The emperor has long been regarded as the driving force for church reform, so Gregory VII’s radical reform actually contradicted the previous policies. In the eyes of many people at that time, Gregory VII’s absolute punishment of Henry IV was only out of his personal disgust for Henry rather than out of justice. Secondly, most bishops in the empire at that time were appointed by Henry III and Henry IV, and a large number of bishops in Bavaria and northern Italy supported Henry IV. Thirdly, Henry IV has always been supported by the merchant class and the residents of the town, because the emperor can provide them with charters of management and autonomy, which has formed a situation in which church authorities and local forces intersect in many areas. Finally, when Henry IV appointed Henry V as heir to the throne at the Mainz Conference in 1098, he specifically asked him to swear that he would not covet his father’s throne like his eldest brother Conrad. However, at the instigation of Pope Pascal II, Henry V believed that his father had been punished and did not need to keep his oath to him. He proclaimed himself emperor in 1104. This behavior is quite inconsistent with the moral concept at that time. Henry V’s seizure of the throne can be regarded as a double betrayal of his father and monarch.
Monica Bohr further pointed out that by depicting Henry V as a bad king in the Chronicle of the Emperor, the responsibility for the political and religious disputes can be attributed to individual rulers, avoiding clearly showing the irreconcilable contradictions between the empire and the church. In addition, the Chronicle of the Emperor never mentions the name of any pope in this part of the account, which is very different from previous and subsequent chapters. Perhaps, it is precisely because the author knows that Henry IV was crowned in Rome in 1084 by opposing Pope Clement III, and people in the middle and late 12th century had different opinions on Gregory VII, Urban II and other popes, and even failed to reach a consensus on the pedigree of legal popes, so he adopted a hidden method here.
Through this record, we can see that in order to cover up the truth of the conflict between politics and religion, the Chronicle of the Emperor deliberately concealed, distorted or even tampered with the historical narration. Through vague narration and the creation of “scapegoats”, it avoided exaggerating the conflict between the empire and the church and maintained the exemplary relationship between politics and religion established in front of it.