THE DONATION OF PEPIN

756 

From the Liber Pontificalis  

An imperial messenger hastened after the aforementioned most Christian king of the Franks (Pepin). He found him within the Lombard borders, not far from the city of Pavia.  He urgently begged him, with the promise of many imperial gifts, to surrender to the imperial authorities the city of Ravenna and the other cities and fortified places of the Exarchate. But he was not able to persuade the steadfast heart of that most Christian and benevolent king, who was faithful to God and loved St. Peter, namely Pepin the king of the Franks, to surrender those cities and places to the imperial authority. That same friend of God and most benevolent king refused to alienate those cities from the power of St. Peter and the jurisdiction of the Roman Church or from the pontiff of the apostolic see.  He affirmed under oath that he had not engaged in war so often to win the favor of any man but for the love of St. Peter and for the remission of his sins, and he declared that no enrichment of his treasury would persuade him to snatch away what he had once offered to St. Peter...

Having acquired all these cities, he issued a document of donation, for the perpetual possession of them by St. Peter and the Roman Church and all the pontiffs of the apostolic see.  This document is still preserved in the archives of our holy church.  The Most Christian king of the Franks sent his counselor Fulrad, a venerable abbot and priest, to receive the cities, and he himself at once set out happily with his armies to return to France.  The said venerable abbot and priest, Fulrad, came to the region of Ravenna with emissaries of King Aistulf, and, entering all the cities of the Pentapolis and Emilia, he took possession of them and also took hostages from among the leading men of each city and obtained the keys of the city gates.  Then he came to Rome and, placing on the tomb of St. Peter the keys of Ravenna and of the various other cities of the Exarchate together with the aforementioned donation issued by his king concerning them, he handed them over to be owned and controlled for all time by the apostle of God and by his most holy vicar the pope and all his successors in the papacy...  

  (Adapted from Brian Tierney, The Crisis of Church and State 1050-1300, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: 1964)