2007 Archive Edition - See the Archive Notice on the Project Homepage for more information.
The Donation of Constantine
The Donation of Constantine was a forged document which claimed that Pope Silvester I (314-335 CE) was given dominion over all of Rome and the western empire for Christianizing and curing emperor Constantine I of leprosy. The purpose of this forgery was to justify the Church's political claim on that territory. Written between 750 and 800, the document was heavily influenced by the Life of Saint Silvester. Scholars believe that the document originated from a cleric in Rome or the Frankish empire. The first official reference to it was made by Leo IX in a letter to Michael Cerularius, patriarch of Constantinople, in 1054. In the 12th century, the document was used to support papal claims of temporal lordship. It was then thought to be genuine by friends and enemies of the papacy. In 1440, it was critically rejected by Lorenzo Valla in his De falso credita et ementita Constantini donatione declamatio. The controversy over its legitimacy lasted until the 18th century. Now, it is generally accepted as a forgery by authorities in the Church history.
Michael T. Batt
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