Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/80

This page needs to be proofread.


eration of states. Thirty years later the Empire builded by his coura- geous Goths fell under the strokes of the Romaic generals. Once more, the Papacy leaned on the unsteady pillars of the Byzantine throne, but this was the last time. Justinian, the great figure of this- era, who had risen from amidst Macedonian farmers to become Em- peror, controlled the destinies of the Empire and also of the Church. His wife Theodora, who had previously been a dancer in the Manege,, was his true helpmate. He would have disturbed the peace of even greater Popes than those who flourished during his long reign. In order to renew the Roman Empire on a Christian basis, he wanted to hold all offices in his hand and did so. He was a lawyer and his codification of Roman law, the Codex Justiniani, has become the text- book of mankind. He was a builder and enriched Byzantium and Ravenna, the city of the exarch, with marvels of art. Viewed from a distance he looked like a Caesar comparable to the greatest of the past. He was interested in and studied everything. Unfortunately thb meant that like his wife he claimed to be a theologian, too.

In this Ccesar Papa there was incarnate the most destructive idea a ruler can entertain the idea of theocratic despotism. Regis voluntas suprema lex. In order that the whole implied tragedy of this maxim should be unfolded it was necessary only that there should be on the throne of Peter an opponent of equal determination. But none was there. The result was only a small handful of glorious and inglorious episodes in Papal history. The saddest is associated with the name of Pope Vigilius. Theodora, who was heretically minded, expected that this favourite, whom she had managed to place on the Papal throne as a successor of his exiled predecessor, would follow a political trend ac- cording to her own heart. At the beginning he resisted, but during the later dogmatic troubles he swayed weakly between "yes" and "no" and "no" and "yes" when the teaching of the Church was deeply in- volved. The Church of the West held its ground against its spirit- ual head. The bishops of Northern Africa severed their relations with him, and ecclesiastical provinces of Milan and Acjuileia per- sisted for a long while in their separation from Rome. The guilty Pope was the victim of grave maltreatment while at the altar, but the Catholic West did not immediately live down the moral upheaval that had shaken his throne. Since the baptism of Clovis in 496,