Pope Stephen II

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In sources prior to the 1960s, this Pope is sometimes called Stephen III and Pope-elect Stephen is sometimes called Stephen II. See Pope-elect Stephen for a detailed explanation.
Pope
Stephen II
La donacion de Pipino el Breve al Papa Esteban II.jpg
Papacy began 26 March 752
Papacy ended 26 April 757
Predecessor Zachary
Successor Paul I
Personal details
Birth name ???
Born 715
Rome
Died 26 April 757(757-04-26)
Rome, Papal States
Other popes named Stephen

Pope Stephen II (Latin: Stephanus II; 715 – 26 April 757[1][2]) was Pope from 26 March 752 to his death in 757. He succeeded Pope Zachary following the death of Pope-elect Stephen. Stephen II marks the historical delineation between the Byzantine Papacy and the Frankish Papacy.

Allegiance to Constantinople[edit]

The Lombards to the north of Rome had captured Ravenna, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire Exarchate of Ravenna, in 751, and began to put pressure on the city of Rome.

Relations were very strained in the mid-8th century between the papacy and the Eastern Roman emperors over the support of the Isaurian Dynasty for iconoclasm. Likewise, maintaining political control over Rome became untenable as the Eastern Roman Empire itself was beset by the Abbasid Caliphate to the south and Bulgars to the northwest. As a result, Rome was unable to secure military support from Constantinople to push back Lombard forces.

Alliance with the Franks[edit]

Stephen turned to Pepin the Younger, the recently crowned King of the Franks (who had also recently defeated the Muslim Umayyad invasion of Gaul),[3] and even traveled to Paris to plead for help in person against the surrounding Lombard and Muslim threats.[4] On 6 January 754, Stephen re-consecrated Pepin as king. In return, Pepin assumed the role of ordained protector of the Church and set his sights on the Lombards, as well as addressing the threat of Islamic Al-Andalus.[5]

Pepin invaded Italy twice to settle the Lombard problem and delivered the territory between Rome and Ravenna to the papacy, but left the Lombard kings in possession of their kingdom.

Duchy of Rome and the Papal States[edit]

La donacion de Pipino el Breve al Papa Esteban II.jpg

Prior to Stephen's alliance with Pepin, Rome had constituted the central city of the Duchy of Rome, which composed one of two districts within the Exarchate of Ravenna, along with Ravenna itself. At Quiercy the Frankish nobles finally gave their consent to a campaign in Lombardy. Roman Catholic tradition asserts that then and there Pepin executed in writing a promise to give to the Church certain territories that were to be wrested from the Lombards, and which would be referred to later as the Papal States. Known as the Donation of Pepin, no actual document has been preserved, but later 8th century sources quote from it.

Stephen now anointed Pepin at Saint-Denis in a memorable ceremony that was evoked in the coronation rites of French kings until the end of the ancien regime in 1789.

In return, in 756, Pepin and his Frankish army forced the last Lombard king to surrender his conquests, and Pepin officially conferred upon the pope the territories belonging to Ravenna, even cities such as Forlì with their hinterlands, laying the Donation of Pepin upon the tomb of Saint Peter, according to traditional later accounts. The gift included Lombard conquests in the Romagna and in the duchies of Spoleto and Benevento, and the Pentapolis in the Marche (the "five cities" of Rimini, Pesaro, Fano, Senigallia and Ancona). For the first time, the Donation made the pope a temporal ruler over a strip of territory that extended diagonally across Italy from the Tyrrhenian to the Adriatic. Over these extensive and mountainous territories the medieval popes were unable to exercise effective sovereignty, given the pressures of the times, and the new Papal States preserved the old Lombard heritage of many small counties and marquisates, each centered upon a fortified rocca.

Pepin confirmed his Donation in Rome in 756, and in 774 Charlemagne confirmed the donation of his father.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Biagia Catanzaro, Francesco Gligora, Breve Storia dei papi, da San Pietro a Paolo VI, Padova 1975, p. 84
  2. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Pope Stephen (II) III". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  3. ^ David Gress (11 May 2010). From Plato to NATO: The Idea of the West and Its Opponents. Preface: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781439119013. He transferred his political allegiance from the empire to the king of the Franks, who lived north of the Alps, who had recently defeated the Muslims who were invading from Spain... 
  4. ^ Peter O'Brien (23 Dec 2008). European Perceptions of Islam and America from Saladin to George W. Bush. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 24. ISBN 9780230617803. 
  5. ^ Sampie Terreblanche (30 Sep 2014). Western Empires, Christianity and the Inequalities between the West and the Rest. Europes industrialisation: Penguin UK. ISBN 9780143531555. To address the threat of an Islamic empire settled in south-western Europe, Pope Stephen II crowned Pippin (the son of Charles Martel) as king of the Frankish dynasty... 
  6. ^ Pierre Riche, The Carolingians: A Family Who Forged Europe, transl. Michael Idomir Allen, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), 97.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Zachary
Pope
752–757
Succeeded by
Paul I