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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Arnulf took Rome by force of arms


next marched against his old enemy, Zwentebold (in some histories the name is written _Sviatopulk_) of Bohemia. This king and his people had recently been converted to Christianity by the missionary Methodius, but it had made no change in their predatory habits. They were the more easily conquered by Arnulf, because the Magyars, a branch of the Finnish race who had pressed into Hungary from the east, attacked them at the same time. The Magyars were called "Hungarians" by the Germans of that day--as they are at present--because they had taken possession of the territory which had been occupied by the Huns, more than four centuries before; but they were a distinct race, resembling the Huns only in their fierceness and daring. They were believed to be cannibals, who drank the blood and devoured the hearts of their slain enemies; and the panic they created throughout Germany was as great as that which went before Attila and his barbarian hordes.

[Sidenote: 894.]

After the subjection of the Bohemians, Arnulf was summoned to Italy, in the year 894, where he assisted Berengar, king of Lombardy, to maintain his power against a rival. He then marched against Rudolf, king of Upper Burgundy, who had been conspiring against him, and ravaged his land. By this time, it appears, his personal ambition was excited by his successes: he determined to become Emperor, and as a means of securing the favor of the Pope, he granted

the most extraordinary privileges to the Church in Germany. He ordered that all civil officers should execute the orders of the clerical tribunals; that excommunication should affect the civil rights of those on whom it fell; that matters of dispute between clergy and laymen should be decided by the Bishops, without calling witnesses,--with other decrees of the same character, which practically set the Church above the civil authorities.

The Popes, by this time, had embraced the idea of becoming temporal sovereigns, and the dissensions among the rulers of the Carolingian line already enabled them to secure a power, of which the former Bishops of Rome had never dreamed. In the early part of the ninth century, the so-called "Isidorian Decretals" (because they bore the name of Bishop Isidor, of Seville) came to light. They were forged documents, purporting to be decrees of the ancient Councils of the Church, which claimed for the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) the office of Vicar of Christ and Vicegerent of God upon earth, with supreme power not only over all Bishops, priests and individual souls, but also over all civil authorities. The policy of the Papal chair was determined by these documents, and several centuries elapsed before their fictitious character was discovered.

Arnulf, after these concessions to the Church, went to Italy in 895. He found the Pope, Formosus, in the power of a Lombard prince, whom the former had been compelled against his will, to crown as Emperor. Arnulf took Rome by force of arms, liberated the Pope, and in return was crowned Roman Emperor. He fell dangerously ill immediately afterwards, and it was believed that he had been poisoned. Formosus, who died the following year, was declared "accurst" by his successor, Stephen VII., and his body was dug up and cast into the Tiber, after it had lain nine months in the grave.

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