The Treatise of Lorenzo Valla on the Donation of Constantine: Text and Translation into English

The Treatise of Lorenzo Valla on the Donation of Constantine: Text and Translation into English

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The Treatise of Lorenzo Valla on the Donation of Constantine: Text and Translation into English

The Treatise of Lorenzo Valla on the Donation of Constantine: Text and Translation into English

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The Donation of Constantine--the most famous forgery in European history; papal authority--since the triumph of Christianity the most perennial question of European society; historical criticism--one of the most comprehensive, most alluring, and most baffling enterprises of the modern mind; Lorenzo Valla--the greatest of the professional Italian humanists; these lines of study have converged, accidentally perhaps, to call forth the following pages. Much of the subject matter which might properly form their introduction I have already treated more fully in an earlier work, and a brief statement will suffice here.

The Donation of Constantine (Constitutum Constantini), written probably not long after the middle of the eighth century, became widely known through its incorporation in the Pseudo- Isidorian Decretals (about 847-853). Parts of it were included in most of the medieval collections of canon law; Anselm's, Deusdedit's, and Gratian's great work (the Decretum, or Concordia discordantium canonum). It purports to reproduce a legal document in which the Emperor Constantine the Great, reciting his baptism and the cure of his leprosy at the hands of Sylvester, Bishop of Rome 314-336, confirmed the privilege of that pontiff as head of all the clergy and supreme over the other four patriarchates; conferred upon him extensive imperial property in various parts of the world, especially the imperial Lateran palace, and the imperial diadem and tiara, and other imperial insignia; granted the Roman clergy the tank of the highest Roman orders and their . . .

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