06/28/05 - charlemagne

In today's excerpt - Pope Stephen III circa 770 shows a slightly different rhetorical style than contemporary popes. Charlemagne, King of the Franks, had been Pope Stephen's protector and defense against the Lombards, but Charlemagne is considering marrying the daughter of the Lombard king, which would of course leave this pope defenseless. Here, Pope Stephen pleads with Charlemagne in this extremely bitter letter not to marry a Lombard:

"What folly is this: your noble Frankish people, the light of all other peoples, and your illustrious and noble line sullied by the foul-smelling and treacherous Lombards, who are not even entitled to be called a nation and who, as is well known, are the cause of leprosy?"

He married her in spite of this protest, though the marriage was short-lived.


Alessandro Barbero


Charlemagne: Father of a Continent


University of California Press


Copyright 2004 by The Regents of the University of California


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