Donation of Constantine

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Related to Donation of Constantine: Constitutum Constantini

Donation of Constantine:

see Constantine, Donation ofConstantine, Donation of,
Lat. Constitutum Constantini, forged document, probably drafted in the 8th cent. It purported to be a grant by Roman Emperor Constantine I of great temporal power in Italy and the West to the papacy.
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Constantine, Donation of,

Lat. Constitutum Constantini, forged document, probably drafted in the 8th cent. It purported to be a grant by Roman Emperor Constantine I of great temporal power in Italy and the West to the papacypapacy
, office of the pope, head of the Roman Catholic Church. He is pope by reason of being bishop of Rome and thus, according to Roman Catholic belief, successor in the see of Rome (the Holy See) to its first bishop, St. Peter.
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. Its purpose was apparently to enhance papal territorial claims in Italy by giving them greater antiquity. The document also recognized the spiritual authority of the popes, but this statement had no weight, since at no time was it argued in the Roman Catholic Church that spiritual authority could emanate from the emperor. It was not, as a matter of fact, ever of great practical value, nor was it, as is sometimes asserted, universally accepted in the Middle Ages. It owes its great fame to the fact that the scholar Lorenzo VallaValla, Lorenzo
, c.1407–57, Italian humanist. Valla knew Greek and Latin well and was chosen by Pope Nicholas V to translate Herodotus and Thucydides into Latin. From his earliest works, he was an ardent spokesman for the new humanist learning that sought to reform
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 demonstrated the falsity of the document by critical methods that became the model for later textual criticism and are said by some to be the beginning of modern textual criticism.


See L. Valla, Treatise on the Donation of Constantine (tr. by C. B. Coleman, 1922; repr. 1971).

Donation of Constantine


a forged document drawn up in the papal chambers evidently in the mid-eighth century to substantiate the pope’s claim to secular power.

According to the Donation of Constantine, in fourth-century Rome the Emperor Constantine allegedly transferred control of the western part of the Roman Empire, including Italy, to Pope Silvester I. The 15th-century Italian humanist L. Valla proved the document to be a forgery.

References in periodicals archive ?
In 1440, Lorenzo Valla proved the Donation of Constantine had been falsified.
5) Lorenzo Valla, The Profession of the Religious and Selections from The Falsely Believed and Forged Donation of Constantine, translated with an Introduction and Notes by Olga Zorzi Pugliese, 2nd ed.
In January, 1054, the Roman delegation left Benevento, halting along the way at Monte Cassino, carrying with them the letters of Humbert written in the pope's name and the Donation of Constantine.
For Rhodes, Valla's exposure of the Donation of Constantine demonstrates the 'efficacy of the word'.
From the birth of the Carolingian Empire in the year 800 onwards the gifts of Pepin, the Donation of Constantine and the False Decretals were assiduously used by the pontiffs to consolidate their power.
Among churchmen who argued that the Church should be independent of imperial control, Bishop Macarius of Ancyra was astute enough to see that the Donation of Constantine was a forgery, while Patriarch Athanasius I declared that only the Church, not the empire, was an eternal and universal institution.
Not enough attention, however, has been paid to the influence of Lorenzo Valla's Discourse on the Forgery of the Alleged Donation of Constantine.
It is not true that Sylvester baptized Constantine, nor that Sylvester was the recipient from the emperor of the famous land grant (and forgery) called the Donation of Constantine.
Fuhrmann offers a masterly summary on the Donation of Constantine.
Allen further complains that Platina writes nothing about the Donation of Constantine and that he denies the emperor's miraculous curing of leprosy at baptism.
True, Fiorani notes that the vision of Italy's unity from the barbarian invasions of the Roman Empire in the gallery mirrors the theses of the antiquarian Cardinal Carlo Sigonio and how the ecclesiological research of the martyrologist Cardinal Cesare Baronio qualified the falsity of the so-called Donation of Constantine.
5-7), Alexander VI exercised the plenitudo potestatis given to him in the Donation of Constantine to distribute the newfound lands between Spain and Portugal, and he invoked his spiritual authority as the vicarius Christi to mandate the evangelization of their inhabitants.