German Catholic Kings Ruled Holy Roman Empire, Defended Europe For Next Thousand Years
On the morning of December 25th, 800, German King Charles entered St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome for a Christmas Day ceremony.
Crowds of people representing all the lands he ruled and other foreign leaders had come to Rome for the event.
In the glowing lights of hundreds of candles, the King could make out costumes of Romans, Franks, Bavarians, Lombards, even of Anglo-Saxons and Greeks.
Charles himself, in a concession to the citizens of Rome, had dressed in the long tunic, clock, and sandals of a Roman nobleman.
The king walked slowly down the long aisle to the front row where his children were seated. His face was solemn, composed, and his thoughts were hidden.
Once at the altar, Charles knelt in prayer. It was a long time before he arose, but when he did his eyes caught sight of the crowns. There on the altar sat not one gold crown, but two.
Pope Leo III reached for the larger of the crowns and placed it on the king’s grizzled head. At once a great cry began to fill the Church.
“Long life and victory to Charles Augustus, crowned by God, great and peaceful emperor of the Romans,” the crowd roared.
Three times they repeated it.
The repetition of this chant had its origins in the ancient ceremony by which a man became emperor of the Romans.
Rome had not had an emperor since the assassination of Emperor Orestes in 467 more than 300 years earlier, but found a new ruler – the King of the Germans.
The popularity of the Christmas celebration spread throughout Europe to honor their new ruler.
King Charlemagne developed Catholicism and gave the Church his political support. The Catholic religion was followed by nearly everyone in his kingdom and created a common culture in Europe.
He also believed it was his duty to be a political and spiritual leader. He believed Bishops were his political assistants and saw no difference between religion and government. He attended mass every morning went to night prayer each evening, and provided the Church with financial support.
His economic policies also supported Catholicism and took a firm stand against Jewish usury.
Before he died in 814 he wrote “Capitulary for the Jews”, a series of laws to protect the economy.
The first law threatened to cut off the right hand of any Jew who loaned money and collected debt from the Church or its members. The second law erased any debt that existed between Jews and Catholics. The third law prohibited Jews to sell wine, grain, or other commodities at their home and threatened confiscation and imprisonment as punishment.
The fourth law included the oath Jews took to conduct business in his Empire. The oath was, “May the God who gave the law to Moses on Mount Sinai help me, and may the leprosy of Naamon the Syrian come upon me as it came upon him, and may the earth swallow me as it swallowed Dathan and Abiron, I have not committed evil against you in this cause.”
The future Holy Roman Emperors also followed King Charlemagne’s example.
They were crowned Emperor of Rome by the Pope and defended Europe for the next one thousand years.