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Early Beginnings of Holy Roman Rule : Church Politics in the Sustaining of the Western Empire (4th-8th centuries)

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Title: Early Beginnings of Holy Roman Rule : Church Politics in the Sustaining of the Western Empire (4th-8th centuries)
Author(s): Silva, Andre Tavares
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies
Discipline: General History
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2016
This study focuses on the developments of the Roman Catholic Church, particularly its emergence as a persecuted sect, all the way to becoming a respected institution, the official religion of the Empire, which gave continuity to the role of imperial power with global ambitions and dimensions. It is generally agreed by historians that the Holy Roman Empire started in the year 800 AD, via the coronation of Charlemagne by pope Leo III at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. This thesis argues that such empire, even if at first devoid of bona fide structures that would render an imperial title appropriate, in fact had its beginnings much earlier than in the 8th century. Throughout this study, key dates are presented and shed light upon, so as to support the claim that already in the 4th century a Church establishment was growing exponentially, in terms of membership, wealth, and reputation, particularly through crucial imperial decrees that lent further credence to religious authorities in their claims of legal basis and divine right to govern the west. With focus on political measures and achievements on the part of the Church authorities, with special attention to the papacy, the concept of imperial regency is used to explain the many centuries necessary for the empire to be brought back. It was the Church the one actor capable of maintaining the Roman imperial legacy in the west after it fell in the 5th century. Despite having re-created the title of emperor, via an alliance with the powerful Franks, the Church, led by the pope, acted as the sole and real governor of a renovated, overwhelmingly Christian Empire.
Keyword(s): Christian Empire Roman Catholic Church Holy Roman Rule Church and State Franks Papacy

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