HAHA Part 15
United we fall?
G’day and welcome to Partakers and to our series, HAHA – Heroes and Heretics Abound. Together we are looking at the story of the church from its origins to the Age of Reasoning in the 18th century.
In Europe, various barbarian factions ruled yet many held the unity of the Roman Empire in their imagination. The barbarous factions were often at war with one another, yet there was an underlying yearning that one day Europe would once again be united under a new Roman Empire! In all of this there came a time when a new centre of power arose from within the landlord aristocracy, as power was greedily gobbled up and transferred to them. Amidst this, one central figure arose the “mayor of the palace.”
The first of these we will look at is Charles Martel.
The family of Charles Martel were a rising political force in France and Europe in the 8th & 9th centuries. Charles Martel had been successive in his battles against the invading Islamists, form which he got the name “Martel”, which means “The hammer”. He had hammered the Islamists from central Europe back to the Iberian peninsula.
Charles Martel had performed as well as allowed great acts of violence against the church. He did however change and sought to set about restoring the rights of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. In 723, Boniface was protected by Charles Martel, which Boniface later exuded that without such an act, he could not govern the church, prevent idolatrous worship or defend the clergy.
When Charles’ son Pepin rose to power he made a pact with the Roman Catholic church, which stipulated that whoever was in actual power should be the actual ruler. Pepin was duly appointed King of the Franks and declared himself the “Chosen of the Lord.”
Under the guidance of Boniface, the church was reformed, there was a revival of religion and education; and they became the "protectors of Rome". More was to come with the advent of Charles Martel’s grandson however.
Charlemagne (Charles the great).
The next person we look at is perhaps one of the most famous in both secular and religious European history of this period: Charlemagne. When Pepin died in 768, his realm was divided between his two sons, Charlemagne and Carloman. Charlemagne became sole ruler when Carloman died suddenly in 771.
On Christmas day 800, in St Peter in Rome, Pope Leo III, crowned as the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, the King of France, Charlemagne.
When Charlemagne came to power, he had 3 goals in mind: military power to crush his opponents; religious power to direct his people’s religion and intellectual power to guide their intellect and minds.
The church & state were to work hand in hand, but there was a continuous struggle between emperor and pope, over who was the final authority. Charlemagne duly returned the lost provinces to the Pope. Charlemagne died after about 13 years as emperor in the year 814, but his influence remains.
His empire was vast and he had succeeded in ensuring that, at least nominally, Christianity survived. Charlemagne successors lacked the will, imagination and drive to continue in his footsteps and the empire soon descended back into chaos. Both the current German and French monarchies consider themselves to descendants of the empire of Charlemagne.
As for the church, the Holy Roman Empire, barely outlived Charlemagne, but it has, as we shall see, had a lasting influence in the revival of religion and education within Europe.
Next time in our series HAHA, we will look at a debate, Decretal and a donation! Thanks for listening! Come back to Partakers, where every day there is something new to encourage your walk as a Christian in the 21st century.