DONATION" OF CONSTANTINE 91
to the Roman See. It adds that he had given Sylvester and his suc- cessors the Lateran Palace, the City of Rome, Italy and indeed the whole of Europe. Furthermore he had granted Imperial privileges, insignia and honours to the Pope, and had conferred the senatorial dignity on the Roman clergy. According to Max Biichner, the spuri- ous document may have been fabricated by Prankish groups anxious to promote their own ends in Prankish politics when Louis met Pope Stephen IV at Rheims, though Rome and the Papacy may also have had a hand in the matter. The effect of the "Donation" on world history is not affected by the multiform attacks made by anti-curialistic writers on its validity as law. The Popes themselves began to regard it as a basis for extensive claims to power only after the middle of the eleventh century. Its importance had by no means ceased when secular and religious scholars of the fifteenth century realized that the document was a forgery, executed long after Constantine's time.
After the Empire was divided into three kingdoms by the Treaty of Verdun (843), the Papacy had a clear path to a stronger position above the ruins of the once proud imperial unity. The mission to the Swedes, Danes and Slavs was begun. In order to ward off maraud- ing bands of Saracens who in 846 pillaged the basilicas outside the walls of Rome, Leo IV fortified the Vatican Quarter and himself assisted in the destruction of the enemy fleet. It was symbolic of the restoration of the spiritual power to its former status when, in official correspondence, this same Pope used the Papal reckoning of dates side by side with the Imperial reckoning. But though the sense of independence was stronger in Rome, it was contemporaneous with the growth of ambition of the prelatical party in Western France, where the episcopacy was freeing itself from the bonds of the state establish- ment. A juridical situation which made it far too completely con- tingent upon local authorities, metropolitan sees and national synods, seemed unendurable to this group. Yet it could attain independence only if a new legal foundation was established. Lacking any other recourse, the clergy undertook in its own right to amend die Prankish canon law. About 850 canonists of Rheims collected legal sources which professed to be the work of the great Isidore of Seville, an encyclopedic scholar of the seventh century. These "Decretals of Pseudo-Isidore," which were regarded as genuine up until the fifteenth