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27 Jul

Papal States (5th – 9th c.)

The Papal States were established with the Donation of Pepin in 756 and besides the lands granted by the Frankish King Pepin the Short (the lands of Exarchate of Ravenna in central Italy) encompassed the Duchy of Rome (today’s Lazio), Sutri and some hill towns in Latium which were granted to the Papacy by the Lombard King Liutprand with the Donation of Sutri in 728.

Pope Stephen II accepting the Donation of Pepin

Pope Stephen II accepting the Donation of Pepin

The collaboration between the Popes and Frankish Kings was crucial for the rise of power and establishment of the Papal States with Popes as spiritual and secular leaders. Pepin the Short deposed the last Merovingian King Childeric III and crowned himself King of the Franks with Pope Zachary’s approval. In return for Zachary’s support Pepin the Short provided military assistance to Pope Stephen II against the Lombards and recaptured the lands between the cities of Rome and Ravenna which were granted to Papacy with the Donation of Pepin in 756.

The Donation of Pepin provided the legal basis for the establishment of the Papal States. The Popes also legitimized the establishment of the Papal States with the forged Donation of Constantine according to which the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great granted the dominion over the city of Rome and the entire Western Roman Empire to Pope Sylvester (314-33) and his successors. Good relations between the Papacy and the Frankish Kingdom continued under Pepin’s successor Charlemagne (768-814) who confirmed the donation of his father and was crowned Emperor of the Romans by the Pope Leo III on Christmas Day (December 25) in 800.

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