A lot happened with the papacy between the times of 500 and 1500 CE. It gained its significance as time went on, starting out as virtually nothing and ending upas a major power, ups and downs in between. These changes were due to both eventsand people, both outside and inside the Church.
Essentially, it all began with Pope Leo the Great and the legacy that he leftbehind. This is where the popes’ prestige all began. Before him, the power wielded tothe pope was questionable and many times overlooked. But once he took on the title ofSupreme Pontiff, it was clear how things were to be. Another thing that was born by himwas the pope regulating ecumenical councils. Leo started this when it came time for theCouncil of Chalcedon.
It was just another way he found to exercise his power as theultimate bishop, the bishop of Rome. Not only did he show that the pope was to be astrong religious leader, he proved that politics were important, too. He intervened inseveral attacks against Rome and ended up safeguarding the city through simplediscussions. Leo the Great set new standards for the bishop of Rome and left poeple toreally revere those who took on the role.
There were things that hindered the strength of the papacy, such as CaeseroPapism. Justinian was a prime example of this and as an emperor practicing it, he gavehimself rights and powers in the Church which were really not his to have. Heestablished things like the Justinian Code, which in some ways benefited the Church as awhole but at the same time, did not. It led to rampant persecutions of other religionswhich is anything but Christian like. Subjectively, it did help to strengthen the Church.
Christianity was given opportunities it did not have before. It was given the ability to bethe dominant religion. However, it did give the emperor the opportunity to impede onthe powers of the papacy, leaving things open to trouble. By the end of the Sixth century, another strong pope came along. Gregory theGreat developed the papacy further in the aspects of service to his poeple.
He wasknown for starting and running a monastery, as well as taking on the many duties ofbeing pope. He strengthened the papacy by staying true when the bishop ofConstantinople was being pushy and by challenging other leaders in the Church toremain strong and fight the heresies and schisms going on. Gregory also found power indealing with the Germanic tribes that were threatening the Eastern Empire, eventuallycoming to terms with them peacefully. Once again, showing the importance that thepope can have on the politics of the Empire.
One of the highest points in the papacy was when it crossed paths withCharlemagne in the Eigth century. Through his father, Pepin, the Church received amass of land which was in and of itself a form of power for the papacy and the Church atthe time. This Donation of Pepin became what was called the Papal States and reallyadded to the prestige of the papacy. It gave power and status to the Church whopreviously didn’t really have anywhere to call their own, per say, and land was truly animportant thing back at the time. Once Charlemagne came into power, the relationshipbetween the Church and the Emperor flourished, especially after he was crowned by thePope himself. This relationship had many advantages and further secured the Churchand papacy.
It was the most obvious way for the Church to grow in power and it alsomeant that the Church would have more stability. Though at the same time, therelationship put the papacy in a place where it could be bought over and was in essence,at the mercy of the Emperor by obligation. It was also hard because Charlemagne had abad case of Caesero Papism. He was all over the Church’s business.
It also caused greatproblems between the East and West and led to a split established by Leo III. Regardless,the relationship was very important to the existence of the papacy and the stability itI think that this was the final installment of what would be needed for whatwould be considered the papacy. It had been a rocky road, but by the end ofCharlemagne, I think it the papacy was finally established. It had to a good foundationand a bright future, although not totally shielded from problems (i. e.
anti-popes, variousforms of corruption, etc). It had secured its connections with the government andachieved its own identity to the poeple. Throughout the times, various popes had proventhe absolute importance of the papacy and it would be a major player in life from thereon out. Not to say that the Ninth century was the end of papal problems, by no meanswas this true, but it was the end of the fundamental formation of the territory. Papacyhad, in fact, become an undeniable reality.Bibliography: