A lot happened with the papacy between the times of 500 and 1500 CE.

It gained its significance as time went on, starting out as virtually nothing and ending up
as a major power, ups and downs in between. These changes were due to both events
and people, both outside and inside the Church.

Essentially, it all began with Pope Leo the Great and the legacy that he left
behind. This is where the popes’ prestige all began. Before him, the power wielded to
the pope was questionable and many times overlooked. But once he took on the title of
Supreme Pontiff, it was clear how things were to be. Another thing that was born by him
was the pope regulating ecumenical councils. Leo started this when it came time for the
Council of Chalcedon. It was just another way he found to exercise his power as the
ultimate bishop, the bishop of Rome. Not only did he show that the pope was to be a
strong religious leader, he proved that politics were important, too. He intervened in
several attacks against Rome and ended up safeguarding the city through simple
discussions. Leo the Great set new standards for the bishop of Rome and left poeple to
really revere those who took on the role.

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There were things that hindered the strength of the papacy, such as Caesero
Papism. Justinian was a prime example of this and as an emperor practicing it, he gave
himself rights and powers in the Church which were really not his to have. He
established things like the Justinian Code, which in some ways benefited the Church as a
whole but at the same time, did not. It led to rampant persecutions of other religions
which is anything but Christian like. Subjectively, it did help to strengthen the Church.
Christianity was given opportunities it did not have before. It was given the ability to be
the dominant religion. However, it did give the emperor the opportunity to impede on
the powers of the papacy, leaving things open to trouble.

By the end of the Sixth century, another strong pope came along. Gregory the
Great developed the papacy further in the aspects of service to his poeple. He was
known for starting and running a monastery, as well as taking on the many duties of
being pope. He strengthened the papacy by staying true when the bishop of
Constantinople was being pushy and by challenging other leaders in the Church to
remain strong and fight the heresies and schisms going on. Gregory also found power in
dealing with the Germanic tribes that were threatening the Eastern Empire, eventually
coming to terms with them peacefully. Once again, showing the importance that the
pope can have on the politics of the Empire.

One of the highest points in the papacy was when it crossed paths with
Charlemagne in the Eigth century. Through his father, Pepin, the Church received a
mass of land which was in and of itself a form of power for the papacy and the Church at
the time. This Donation of Pepin became what was called the Papal States and really
added to the prestige of the papacy. It gave power and status to the Church who
previously didn’t really have anywhere to call their own, per say, and land was truly an
important thing back at the time. Once Charlemagne came into power, the relationship
between the Church and the Emperor flourished, especially after he was crowned by the
Pope himself. This relationship had many advantages and further secured the Church
and papacy. It was the most obvious way for the Church to grow in power and it also
meant that the Church would have more stability. Though at the same time, the
relationship put the papacy in a place where it could be bought over and was in essence,
at the mercy of the Emperor by obligation. It was also hard because Charlemagne had a
bad case of Caesero Papism. He was all over the Church’s business. It also caused great
problems between the East and West and led to a split established by Leo III. Regardless,
the relationship was very important to the existence of the papacy and the stability it
I think that this was the final installment of what would be needed for what
would be considered the papacy. It had been a rocky road, but by the end of
Charlemagne, I think it the papacy was finally established. It had to a good foundation
and a bright future, although not totally shielded from problems (i.e. anti-popes, various
forms of corruption, etc). It had secured its connections with the government and
achieved its own identity to the poeple. Throughout the times, various popes had proven
the absolute importance of the papacy and it would be a major player in life from there
on out. Not to say that the Ninth century was the end of papal problems, by no means
was this true, but it was the end of the fundamental formation of the territory. Papacy
had, in fact, become an undeniable reality.


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