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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Defeated the Longobards in several battles


the Short had found, through his own experience as well as that of his ancestors, that the pretence of a Merovingian king only worked confusion in the realm of the Franks, since it furnished to the subordinate races and principalities a constant pretext for revolt. When, therefore, Pope Zacharias found himself threatened by Aistulf, the successor of Luitprand as king of the Longobards, and sent an embassy to Pippin the Short appealing for his assistance, the latter returned to him this question: "Does the kingdom belong to him who exercises the power, without the name, or to him who bears the name, without possessing the power?" The answer was what he expected: a general assembly was called together in 752, Pippin was anointed King by the Archbishop Bonifacius, then lifted on a shield according to the ancient custom and accepted by the nobles and people. The shadowy Merovingian king, Childeric III., was shorn of his long hair, the sign of royalty, and sent into a monastery, where he disappeared from the world. Pippin now possessed sole and unlimited sway over the kingdom of the Franks, and named himself "King by the Grace of God,"--an example which has been followed by most monarchs, down to our day. On the other hand, the decision of Zacharias was a great step gained by the Papal power, which thenceforth began to exalt its prerogatives over those of the rulers of nations.

[Sidenote: 755.]

Pippin's first duty,

as king, was to repel a new invasion of the Saxons. His power was so much increased by his title that he was able, at once, to lead against them such a force that they were compelled to pay a tribute of 300 horses annually, and to allow Christian missionaries to reside among them. The latter condition was undoubtedly the suggestion of Bonifacius, who determined to carry the cross to the North Sea, and complete the conversion of Germany. He himself undertook a mission to Friesland, where he had failed as a young monk, and there, in 755, at the age of seventy-five, he was slain by the fierce pagans. He died like a martyr; refusing to defend himself, and was enrolled among the number of Saints.

In the year 754, Pope Stephen II., the successor of Zacharias, appeared in France as a personal supplicant for the aid of King Pippin. Aistulf, the Longobard king, who had driven the Byzantines out of the Exarchy of Ravenna, was marching against Rome, which still nominally belonged to the Eastern Empire. To make his entreaty more acceptable, the Pope bestowed on Pippin the title of "Patrician of Rome," and solemnly crowned both him and his young sons, Karl and Karloman, in the chapel of St. Denis, near Paris. At the same time he issued a ban of excommunication against all persons who should support a monarch belonging to any other than the reigning dynasty.

Pippin first endeavored to negotiate with Aistulf, but, failing therein, he marched into Italy, defeated the Longobards in several battles, and besieged the king in Pavia, his capital. Aistulf was compelled to promise that he would give up the Exarchy and leave the Pope in peace; but no sooner had Pippin returned to France than he violated all his promises. On the renewed appeals of the Pope, Pippin came to Italy a second time, again defeated the Longobards, and forced Aistulf not only to fulfil his former promises, but also to pay the expenses of the second war. He remained in Italy until the conditions were fulfilled, and his son Karl (Charlemagne), then fourteen years old, spent some time in Rome.

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