Charlemagne Judges Pope Leo III as Innocent of All Accusations Against Him

Charlemagne Judges Pope Leo III as Innocent of All Accusations Against Him

Charlemagne

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Charlemagne holds an official council in Rome to judge accusations that have been made against Pope Leo III. Rome's nobility has been trying to get rid of Leo because isn't from a noble family. He's been accused of a variety of crimes, including adultery and perjury. In April 799 a gang of nobles attacked him, trying to gouge out his eyes and tear out his tongue.

The only place Leo III could go for real help was Charlemagne, who agrees to return to Rome and issue a ruling. Charlemagne decides that Pope Leo III is innocent of all the accusations that have been made against him, thus reinforcing his authority over the Christian church.

On Christmas Day, while Charlemagne prays during Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica, Leo crowns him Imperator Romanorum ("Emperor of the Romans"). This reinforces Charlemagne's authority, though it also establishes the idea that imperial power flows from God through the pope, thus establishing the position of the pope as higher than that of temporal rulers.

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Christopher Lee on Charlemagne

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