Pope Zachary

Pope Zachary (Latin: Zacharias; 679 – March 752)[1] reigned from 3 December[1] or 5 December 741[2] to his death in 752. A Greek from Santa Severina,[3] Calabria, he was the last pope of the Byzantine Papacy. Most probably he was a deacon of the Roman Church and as such signed the decrees of the Roman council of 732, and succeeded Gregory III on 5 December 741.[2]

Zachary built the original church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, forbade the traffic of slaves in Rome, and negotiated peace with the Lombards. In response to an inquiry forwarded by Pepin the Short, Zachary rendered the opinion that it was better that he should be king who had the royal power than he who had not. Shortly thereafter, the Frankish nobles decided to abandon the Merovingian Childeric III in favor of Pepin, who then reigned as King of the Franks[4] from 751 to 768.

Historians such as J.P. Kirsch and Peter Partner have viewed Pope Zachary as a capable administrator and a skillful and subtle diplomat in a dangerous time.

Pope Saint

Papacy began3 December or 5 December 741
Papacy endedMarch 752
PredecessorGregory III
SuccessorPope-elect Stephen
Personal details
Birth nameZacharias son of Polichronius
Santa Severina, Calabria, Byzantine Empire
Died15 March 752 (aged 72–73)
Rome, Kingdom of the Lombards
Feast day15 March
Venerated inCatholicism
Papal styles of
Pope Zachary
Emblem of the Papacy SE
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleSaint


His predecessor's alliance with the Lombard Duke of Spoleto put papal cities at risk when the Dukes of Spoleto and Benevento rebelled. Zachary turned to King Liutprand the Lombard directly. Out of respect for Zachary the king restored to the church of Rome all the territory seized by the Lombards and sent back the captives without ransom.[5] The contemporary history (Liber pontificalis) dwells chiefly on Zachary's personal influence with Liutprand, and with his successor Ratchis.[4] At the request of the Exarchate of Ravenna, Zachary persuaded Luitprand to abandon a planned attack on Ravenna and to restore territory seized from the city.[2]

Zachary corresponded with Saint Boniface, the apostle of Germany.[4] He counseled Boniface about dealing with disreputable prelates such as Milo of Trier. "As for Milo and his like, who are doing great injury to the church of God, preach in season and out of season, according to the word of the Apostle, that they cease from their evil ways."[6]

At Boniface's request, the Pope confirmed three newly established Bishoprics of Würzburg, Büraburg, and Erfurt. In 742 he appointed Boniface as papal legate to the Concilium Germanicum, hosted by Carloman. In a later letter Zachary confirmed the metropolitans appointed by Boniface to Rouen, Reims, and Sens. In 745 Zachary convened a synod in Rome to discourage a tendency toward the worship of angels.[7]

He sanctioned the deposition of the last Merovingian King of the Franks, Childeric III.

In order to legitimize his planned usurpation of the throne, Pepin the Short makes the Pope a compromising consultation charged in the guise of a naive search for orthodox conduct. In response to his question, the Pope said that in these circumstances, the de facto power was considered more important than the de jure authority, an endorsement Pepin was later able to present to an assembly of the Frankish nobles and army. Pepin was subsequently crowned King of the Franks by Boniface at Soissons in 752. Zachary is stated to have remonstrated with the Byzantine emperor Constantine Copronymus on the part he had taken in the iconoclastic controversy.[4][2]

Zachary built the original church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva over an ancient temple to Minerva near the Pantheon. He also restored the decaying Lateran Palace, moving the relic of the head of Saint George to the church of San Giorgio al Velabro. Also in Rome, some Venetian merchants bought many slaves in the city to sell to the Muslims of Africa; however, Zachary forbade such traffic and then paid the merchants their price, giving the slaves their freedom.[5][8][9]

Pope Zachary died around 15 March 752 (it may also have been the 12th or 14th)[1] and was buried in St. Peter's Basilica. Zachary was succeeded by Stephen, who died soon before his consecration and is not considered a valid pope. He was then followed by another Stephen who became Stephen II. The letters and decrees of Zachary are published in Jacques Paul Migne, Patrolog. lat. lxxxix. p. 917–960.[4]


Church historian, Johann Peter Kirsch said of Zachary: "In a troubled era Zachary proved himself to be an excellent, capable, vigorous, and charitable successor of Peter."[2] Peter Partner called Zachary a skilled diplomat, "perhaps the most subtle and able of all the Roman pontiffs, in this dark corridor in which the Roman See hovered just inside the doors of the Byzantine world."[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Miranda, Salvador. "The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church". Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e Wikisource-logo.svg Kirsch, Johann Peter (1912). "Pope St. Zachary" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  3. ^ "Itineraries - Le Puzelle - Natural Farmhouse in Southern Italy". Le Puzelle - Natural Farmhouse in Southern Italy. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  4. ^ a b c d e Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Zacharias, St" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 20 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 950.
  5. ^ a b Butler, Alban (1866). "Zachary, Pope and Confessor". The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints. III. Dublin: James Duffy.
  6. ^ Wansbrough OSB, Henry. "St. Boniface, Monk and Missioner", Prayer and Thought in Monastic Tradition: Essays in Honour of Benedicta Ward SLG, (Santha Bhattacharji, Dominic Mattos, Rowan Williams, eds.), A&C Black, 2014, p. 133, ISBN 9780567082954
  7. ^ "Assigning Names to Angels – ZENIT – English". zenit.org. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  8. ^ Stefan K. Stantchev (3 Jul 2014). Spiritual Rationality: Papal Embargo as Cultural Practice. Oxford University Press. p. 28. ISBN 9780191009235.
  9. ^ Annali d'Italia: Dall'anno 601 dell'era volare fino all'anno 840, by Lodovico Antonio Muratori, Giuseppe Catalani, Monaco (1742); page 298.
  10. ^ Partner, Peter. The Lands of St. Peter: The Papal State in the Middle Ages and the Early Renaissance, University of California Press, 1972, p. 17, ISBN 9780520021815


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Gregory III
3 December or 5 December 741 – 15 March 752
Succeeded by
Stephen II

The 740s decade ran from January 1, 740, to December 31, 749.

== Events ==

=== 740 ===

==== By place ====

====== Byzantine Empire ======

Battle of Akroinon: Following the disastrous Battle of Sebastopolis (see 692), Emperor Leo III has largely confined himself to a defensive strategy, while the Umayyad armies regularly launch raids into Byzantine-held Anatolia. Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik assembles an expeditionary force (90,000 men) under his son Sulayman ibn Hisham. One of these armies, 20,000 men strong under Abdallah al-Battal, is defeated at Akroinon (modern-day Afyon) by the Byzantines, led by Leo and his son, the future emperor Constantine V. About 6,800 Muslim Arabs, however, resist and manage to conduct an orderly retreat to Synnada (Phrygia).

October 26 – An earthquake strikes Constantinople and the surrounding countryside, causing destruction to the city's land walls and buildings.

====== Europe ======

The Berber tribes in the recently conquered region of Galicia (northwest Spain) rebel. This facilitates the establishment of an independent kingdom in the Cantabrian Mountains under King Alfonso I of Asturias.

Duke Thrasimund II recovers the duchy of Spoleto and kills Hilderic with Papal-Beneventian aid. He does not return the confiscated papal cities, and his alliance with Pope Gregory III ruptures.

December – King Liutprand of the Lombards attempts to counter the growing independence of the Lombard duchies in southern Italy.

Sicily, Sardinia, Provence, and Greece are raided by a fleet of Arab Muslim ships sent by the governor of Ifriqya, the ones raiding South Western Europe are led by Habīb Ibn Abi ‘Ubayda Al-Fihrī, while the fleet raiding Greece is led by Mu’awiya ibn Hishām. All of them are successful, submitting the Islands and returning with much wealth from the spoils of war.

====== Britain ======

King Eadberht of Northumbria marches his army north to attack the Picts. King Æthelbald of Mercia takes advantage of his absence, and ravages the city of York. Internal struggles re-emerge in Northumbria with the murder of Eardwine, probably the son of the late usurping king Eadwulf I.

King Æthelheard of Wessex dies after a 14-year reign. He is succeeded by his brother (and probably distant relative) Cuthred. Æthelbald of Mercia takes control of Berkshire from Wessex.

====== Africa ======

Battle of the Nobles: The Berber rebels under chieftain Khalid ibn Hamid al-Zanati defeat and overwhelm the Umayyad forces of Khalid ibn Abi Habib al-Fihri, near Tangier (Northern Morocco), undermining Arab domination in Islamic North Africa. The rebellion spreads in Al-Andalus (Spain), causing governor Ubayd Allah ibn al-Habhab to withdraw Moorish troops from many garrisons north of the Pyrenees.

====== Asia ======

Much to the delight of the citizens of Chang'an, the Chinese government of the Tang Dynasty orders fruit trees to be planted along every main avenue of the city, which enriches not only the diets of the people but also the surroundings (approximate date)

Fujiwara no Hirotsugu Rebellion: The Fujiwara clan led by Fujiwara no Hirotsugu, dissatisfied with the political powers in Japan, raise an army in Dazaifa (Kyushu) but are defeated by government forces.

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

The Khazars, a nation of the Black Sea steppe, though not ethnically Jewish, voluntarily convert to Judaism.

Cuthbert becomes archbishop of Canterbury after the death of Nothhelm (see 739).

=== 741 ===

==== By place ====

====== Byzantine Empire ======

June 18 – Emperor Leo III ("the Isaurian") dies of dropsy at Constantinople, after a 24-year reign that has saved the Byzantine Empire and delivered Eastern Europe from the threat of an Arab conquest. He is succeeded by his son Constantine V.

Artabasdos, Byzantine general (strategos) of the Armeniac theme, defeats Constantine V and advances on Constantinople, where he is crowned emperor. He secures the support of the themes of Thrace and Opsikion, and abandons Leo's religious policy of iconoclasm. Constantine seeks the support of the Anatolic theme.

====== Europe ======

October 22 – Charles Martel, Merovingian mayor of the palace, dies in his palace at Quirzy-sur-Oise (modern-day Picardy). His territories are divided between his adult sons Carloman and Pepin the Short, although the Frankish Kingdom has had no true king since the death of Theuderic IV (see 737). Lands to the east, including Austrasia and Alemannia (with Bavaria as a vassal) go to Carloman, while Pepin receives Neustria and Burgundy (with Aquitaine as a vassal). Grifo, youngest son of Charles, succeeds him as mayor of the palace, and probably receives a strip of land between Neustria en Austrasia.

Pepin the Short marries Bertrada of Laon, daughter of count Charibert of Laon.

====== = Switzerland = ======

In 741 and 744, documents in the archives of St. Gallen Abbey describe the village of Kempraten as Centoprato, another document in 863 as Centiprata, inspired by the Latin name Centum Prata.

A nunnery given by the Alamannic noblewoman Beata on Lützelau island is first mentioned. In 744, the nunnery is sold to Einsiedeln Abbey.

Ufenau island in Switzerland is first mentioned in 741 as "Hupinauia", and in 744 as "Ubinauvia" — island of Huppan of Huphan.

====== Africa ======

The Great Berber Revolt: Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik appoints Kulthum ibn Iyad al-Qasi as governor (wali) of Ifriqiya (North Africa). A fourth expedition is sent from Syria by the Umayyad Caliphate to crush the rebellion in the Atlas region, but is defeated at the Battle of Bagdoura, in the plain of the Ghrab (modern Morocco). The counter-attack of the Kharijite rebels to the East is successful, but fails to conquer Kairouan from the loyalists. A more radical branch of the Tunisian Kharijites, (the Sufrists) however, manages to take the city soon after.

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

November 28 – Pope Gregory III dies at Rome, after a 10-year reign. He is succeeded by Zachary, as the 91st pope of the Catholic Church.

April 23 – A fire destroys the English city of York Minster, including its Church. The church is later rebuilt as a more impressive structure, containing thirty altars.

Japanese authorities decree that Buddhist temples should be established throughout the country (approximate date).

=== 742 ===

==== By place ====

====== Europe ======

King Liutprand of the Lombards meets Pope Zachary at Terni (Central Italy), who appeals to the king's religious faith. Liutprand is a pious Catholic and signs a 20-year peace treaty, restoring the cities of the Duchy of Rome which he has captured. The independent Lombard duchies of Spoleto and Benevento absorb into the Lombard Kingdom.

Arab-Byzantine Wars: Arab forces under Sulayman ibn Hisham invade Anatolia, reaching as far as Herakleia, and return with much wealth & livestock.

Umayyad conquest of Hispania: Arab forces under Abd al-Malik ibn Katan al-Fihri, governor (wali) of Al-Andalus, suppress the Berber rebellion in the region of Mértola (modern Portugal).

Teodato Ipato succeeds his father Orso Ipato, as the fourth doge of Venice. He moves the capital from Heraclea to Malamocco.

====== Africa ======

The Great Berber Revolt: Muslim forces under Handhala ibn Safwan al-Kalbi, governor of Egypt, break out of besieged Kairouan (Tunisia). He scatters the Berbers, and in the following months he reconquers all lands lost during the Revolt in Morocco and South of it.

====== Asia ======

Emperor Xuan Zong begins to favor Taoism over Buddhism, adopting the new reign title Tianbao ("Heavenly Treasures"), to indicate his divine mandate. The total number of enlisted troops in the Tang armies has risen to about half a million, due to Xuan Zongs's earlier military reforms.

For the municipal census of the Chinese capital city Chang'an and its metropolitan area of Jingzhou (including small towns in the vicinity), the New Book of Tang records that in this year there are 362,921 registered families with 1,960,188 persons.

Li Bai (also Li Po), Chinese poet, is summoned by Xuan Zong to attend the imperial court. He and his friend Du Fu become the two most prominent figures in the flourishing of Chinese poetry, during the mid-Tang Dynasty.

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

After a 40-year vacancy, Stephen IV becomes Orthodox patriarch of Antioch, at the suggestion of caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik.

Chrodegang, chancellor of Charles Martel, is appointed bishop of Metz and embarks on a reorganisation of the Frankish church.

Sturm, disciple of Boniface, establishes the Benedictine Abbey of Fulda (present-day Hesse) in Germany (or 744).

The Holy Face of Lucca is transferred to Lucca from Luni (approximate date).

=== 743 ===

==== By place ====

====== Byzantine Empire ======

Summer – Emperor Constantine V defeats his brother-in-law Artabasdos, who has led a two-year insurrection in an attempt to usurp the Byzantine throne. He heads for Constantinople, and captures the capital three months later. Artabasdos and his son Niketas are publicly blinded, and relegated to the monastery of Chora. Constantine renews his policy of Iconoclasm.

Constantine V reforms the old Imperial Guard of Constantinople into new elite cavalry and infantry units, called tagmata (Greek for 'the regiments'). He uses these troops against a rebellious theme in north-west Anatolia (modern Turkey), and later for offensive campaigns against Arab Muslim raiders and Bulgars.

====== Europe ======

Childeric III re-succeeds to the throne of the Frankish Kingdom as the last Merovingian king, (until his death in 754) after an interregnum of seven years. Power remains firmly in the hands of the major domus, currently Carloman and Pepin the Short.

Duke Odilo of Bavaria comes to the aid of Boruth, prince (knyaz) of the Carantanians, against repeated Avar incursions in present-day Austria, and is able to vassalize the Slavic principality. In exchange for Bavarian assistance, Boruth accepts his overlordship and is converted to Christianity.

====== Britain ======

King Æthelbald of Mercia joins forces with Wessex and attacks Gwent and Powys in Mid Wales (approximate date).

====== Arabian Empire ======

February 6 – Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik dies after a 19-year reign, in which the Arab expansion in Europe has been stopped and the Umayyad Caliphate has come under pressure from the Turks in Central Asia and Berbers in North Africa. He is succeeded by his nephew Al-Walid II, who has Khalid al-Qasri, former governor of Iraq, imprisoned and tortured.

====== Japan ======

Emperor Shōmu changes the law of Perpetual Ownership of Cultivated Lands. This permits aristocrats and members of the clergy to cultivate land. The new farmland will be called shoin.

====== Americas ======

In one of the final battles of the Third Tikal-Calakmul War, the city of El Peru is taken by Tikal.

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

The Concilium Germanicum: First major Church synod held in the eastern parts of the Frankish Kingdom. Organized by Carloman, Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia, and presided over by Saint Boniface, who is solidified in his position as leader of the Frankish church.

=== 744 ===

==== By place ====

====== Europe ======

February – King Liutprand of the Lombards dies of natural causes after a 32-year reign, in which he has defeated the dukes of Spoleto and Benevento, bringing the Lombard Kingdom to the height of her power. He is succeeded by Hildeprand, called the Useless (nephew or grandson of Liutprand), as ruler of the Lombards.

October – Hildeprand is deposed by the council of nobles, for his incompetence as ruler. He is succeeded by Ratchis (formerly duke of Friuli) as king of the Lombards, who makes peace with Pope Zachary.

Pepin the Short, mayor of the palace of Neustria and Burgundy, invades the Swabian Jura (southwestern Germany), and chases Theudebald, Duke of Alamannia, from his mountain redoubt in Alsace.

====== Britain ======

Wat's Dyke, a 40 mile (64 km) earthwork in present-day Wales, is constructed. The border between Mercia and Powys is set here (approximate date).

====== = Switzerland = ======

In 741 and 744, documents in the archives of St. Gallen Abbey describe the village of Kempraten as Centoprato, another document in 863 as Centiprata, inspired by the Latin name Centum Prata.

A nunnery given by the Alamannic noblewoman Beata on Lützelau Island is first mentioned, and is in this year sold to Einsiedeln Abbey.

Ufenau island in Switzerland is first mentioned in 741 as "Hupinauia", and in 744 as "Ubinauvia" — island of Huppan of Huphan.

====== Arabian Empire ======

April 17 – Caliph Al-Walid II is besieged in his castle outside the city of Damascus. He is defeated and killed by Arab forces under Sulayman ibn Hisham. Al-Walid is succeeded by his cousin Yazid III, who dies shortly after of a brain tumor.

December – Marwan ibn Muhammad rebels against Yazid's designated successor Ibrahim ibn al-Walid, defeats the Umayyad forces under Sulayman ibn Hisham, and becomes caliph.

====== Asia ======

Turkish subjects like Uyghur, Karluk and Basmyl, who are not the members of the Ashina clan, stage a coup. This ends the Turkish Empire and Ashina clan (except in Khazaria).

Autumn – Li Bai (also Li Po), Chinese poet and skilled calligrapher, meets Du Fu for the first time.

====== Americas ======

Tikal takes over Naranjo, destroying Calakmul's once powerful and extensive network of allies, vassal states and trade networks, and ending the Third (and final) Tikal-Calakmul War.

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

Synod of Soissons. Called at the instigation of Pepin the Short and Boniface, archbishop and metropolitan, it secures the condemnation of the Frankish bishop Adalbert.

Sturm, disciple of Boniface, establishes the Benedictine Abbey of Fulda (Hesse), as part of Boniface's mission to bring Christianity to the pagan tribes in Germany (or 742).

June – Pope Zachary gives his approval by sending Abel, Grimo and Hartbert their palliums for the metropolitan sees of Reims, Rouen and Sens.

Salih ibn Tarif proclaims himself a prophet among the Barghawata, a confederation of Berber tribes in modern-day western Morocco.

=== 745 ===

==== By place ====

====== Byzantine Empire ======

Bubonic plague in Asia Minor kills 1/3 of the population, and subsequently sweeps through the Peloponnese (Balkan Peninsula) (approximate date).

====== Europe ======

Hunald I, duke of Aquitaine, retires to a monastery, probably on Île de Ré. He is succeeded by his son Waifar, who struggles during his rule for independence against the Frankish Kingdom.

Carantania (modern Austria) loses its independence and becomes part of the Frankish Kingdom, due to the pressing danger posed by Avar tribes from the east (approximate date).

====== Asia ======

China has accomplishments in poetry, painting and printing, but its monarchical system tends toward failure. Emperor Xuan Zong has fallen under the spell of his son's wife Yang Guifei (one of the Four Beauties of Ancient China), a Taoist priestess. He is ignoring the economy and the Tang Dynasty is declining.

The newly founded Uyghur Empire controls most of the former Turkish Empire territory, creating an empire that extends from Lake Balkash (modern Kazakhstan) to Lake Baikal (Mongolia), and is subject to Chinese suzerainty (approximate date).

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

Genbō, Japanese scholar-monk, is exiled to Dazaifu on the island of Kyushu.

=== 746 ===

==== By place ====

====== Byzantine Empire ======

Arab–Byzantine Wars: Taking advantage of discontent among the Muslim Arabs, Emperor Constantine V invades Syria, and captures Germanikeia (modern Turkey). He organises the resettlement of part of the local Christian population in Thrace.

Arab–Byzantine Wars: The Byzantine navy scores a crushing victory over the Umayyad Egyptian fleet at the Battle of Keramaia.

====== Europe ======

Council of Cannstatt: Carloman, mayor of the palace of Austrasia, convenes an assembly of the Alemanni nobility at Cannstatt (modern Stuttgart), and has most of the magnates, numbering in the thousands, arrested and executed for high treason. This ends the independence of the tribal duchy of Alamannia, which is thereafter governed by counts or dukes appointed by their Frankish overlords.

King Ratchis codifies the Lombard laws, promulgated in Latin, and advised by his council and the Lombard army (approximate date).

====== Britain ======

King Saelred of Essex dies after a 37-year reign. He is succeeded by Swithred, grandson of the late king Sigeheard. Like his predecessors, he is not an independent ruler, but a sub-king of Mercia.

====== Unmayyad Caliphate ======

August or September – Battle of Kafartuta: Caliph Marwan II defeats and kills Al-Dahhak ibn Qays al-Shaybani, leader of the Kharijites, in Upper Mesopotamia. The rebels withdraw across the River Tigris, escaping destruction.

====== Asia ======

The Hida-Kokubunji Temple in Japan is built to pray for peace and prosperity (approximate date).

Jayshikhari Chavda establishes the Chavda Dynasty in Gujarat (India).

==== By topic ====

====== Religion ======

Guru Rinpoche, Indian saint, travels to Bhutan (eastern end of the Himalayas), to cure the king of Bumthang (approximate date).

The Benedictine Tegernsee Abbey (Bavaria) begins brewing its own beer (approximate date).

=== 747 ===

==== By place ====

====== Byzantine Empire ======

Arab–Byzantine War: Emperor Constantine V destroys the Arab fleet off Cyprus, with the aid of ships from the Italian city-states, breaking the naval power of the Umayyad Caliphate.

====== Europe ======

August 15 – Carloman, mayor of the palace of Austrasia, renounces his position as majordomo, and withdraws from public life. He retires to a monastery near Rome, being tonsured by Pope Zachary, and leaves his brother Pepin the Short as sole ruler (de facto) of the Frankish Kingdom.

Bubonic plague breaks out in Sicily, Calabria (Southern Italy), and Monemvasia (modern Greece).

====== Islamic Empire ======

June 9 – Abbasid Revolution: Abu Muslim Khorasani, Persian military leader from Khorasan, begins an open revolt against Umayyad rule, which is carried out under the sign of the Black Standard. Close to 10,000 Muslims, primarily Khorasani Persians are under his command, when the hostilities officially begin in Merv (modern Turkmenistan).

====== Asia ======

Chinese forces under Gao Xianzhi (a Korean in Tang employ) defeat the Arabs and Tibetans, by rapid military expeditions over the Pamir Mountains and Hindu Kush. About 72 local Indian and Sogdian kingdoms become Tang vassals. Over the next two years he establishes complete control in East Asia.

Emperor Xuan Zong abolishes the death penalty in China, during the Tang Dynasty (approximate date).

Empress Kōmyō founds the Shin-Yakushi-ji Buddhist temple in Nara (Japan).

=== 748 ===

==== By place ====

====== Europe ======

January 18 – Duke Odilo of Bavaria dies after a 12-year reign. Grifo, youngest son of Charles Martel, seeks to establish his own rule by seizing the duchy for himself, and abducts Odilo's infant son Tassilo III.

====== Britain ======

King Æthelbert II of Kent sends a message to Boniface, archbishop of Mainz, requesting two well-trained goshawks for hunting. He had earlier made a gift of two falcons and a goshawk to King Æthelbald of Mercia (approximate date).

====== Arabian Empire ======

February 14 – Abbasid Revolution: The Hashimi rebels under Abu Muslim Khorasani take Merv, capital of the Umayyad province Khorasan (modern Iran), marking the consolidation of the Abbasid revolt. Qahtaba ibn Shabib al-Ta'i takes the cities Nishapur and Rey, defeating an Umayyad army (10,000 men) at Gorgan.

December 9 – Nasr ibn Sayyar, Arab governor of Khorasan, dies after a 10-year administration in which he has fought vigorously against dissident tribes, Turgesh neighbors, and the Abbasids. Nasr had imposed poll taxes (jizya) on non-Muslims, and introduced a system of land taxation for Muslim Arabs.

The city of Baalbek (modern Lebanon) is sacked with great slaughter.

====== Asia ======

An earthquake strikes the Middle East from northern Egypt to northwestern Mesopotamia, destroying many remnants of Byzantine culture (approximate date).

=== 749 ===

==== By place ====

====== Europe ======

King Ratchis of the Lombards besieges Perugia; convinced to lift the siege by Pope Zachary, he is forced to retire with his family to the monastery at Monte Cassino.

June – Aistulf succeeds his brother, Ratchis, as king of the Lombards and marries Gisaltruda, sister of Anselm, Duke of Friuli.

====== Britain ======

King Ælfwald of East Anglia dies after a 36-year reign. He is succeeded by Beonna, Æthelberht I and possibly Hun (relationship unknown). Beonna emerges as the dominant monarch.

King Æthelbald of Mercia calls the Synod of Gumley, at the instigation of Boniface, bishop of Mainz, and issues a charter that releases the Catholic Church from all public burdens.

====== Arabian Empire ======

Abbasid Revolution: Muslim forces under Qahtaba ibn Shabib al-Ta'i defeat a large Umayyad army (50,000 men) at Isfahan, and invade Iraq, taking the city of Kufa.

Abdallah ibn Abd al-Malik, Umayyad prince, is executed by crucifixion on orders of the first Abbasid caliph, Abdullah ibn Muhammad, at Al-Hirah (or 750).

October 28 – Abdullah ibn Muhammad is proclaimed caliph at Kufa by his supporters and adopts the title of al-Saffah (the "Slaughterer of Blood").

====== Japan ======

August 19 – Emperor Shōmu abdicates the throne, after a 25-year reign that has been dominated by his wife (and aunt), Kōmyō, a commoner he married at age 16. He is succeeded by his daughter Kōken; Shōmu becomes the first retired emperor to become a Buddhist priest.

==== By topic ====

====== Catastrophe ======

January 18 – Galilee earthquake: Palestine and eastern Transjordan are devastated by an earthquake. The cities of Tiberias, Beit She'an, Hippos and Pella are largely destroyed.


Year 744 (DCCXLIV) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 744 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.


Year 751 (DCCLI) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 751 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

Agilulfus of Cologne

Saint Agilulfus (or Agigulf), Abbot of Stavelot, Bishop of Cologne and martyr, died in the year 750. Little is known about this saint, and an early account written by a monk of Malmedy is deemed untrustworthy.

Agilulfus came from a good family and was educated under Abbot Angelinus at Stavelot. A short time after succeeding as Abbot of Stavelot, Agilulfus became Bishop of Cologne. He is said to have tried to persuade King Pepin to leave his throne to someone other than Charles Martel, due to Charles' illegitimacy. Agilulfus' violent end soon after could be a result of Martel seeking revenge.

A letter of Pope Zachary in 747 commended Agilulfus for signing the "Charta verae et orthodoxae professionis."

His remains were taken to the Church of Our Lady of the Steps St. Maria ad Gradus at Cologne. His feast day is July 9.


Aistulf (also Ahistulf, Aistulfus, Haistulfus etc.; Italian: Astolfo; died 756 AD) was the Duke of Friuli from 744, King of Lombards from 749, and Duke of Spoleto from 751. His father was the Duke Pemmo.After his brother Ratchis became king, Aistulf succeeded him in Friuli. He succeeded him later as king when Ratchis abdicated to a monastery. Aistulf continued the policy of expansion and raids against the papacy and the Eastern Roman exarchate of Ravenna. In 751, he captured Ravenna itself and even threatened Rome, claiming a capitation tax. He also conquered the Istria region from Eastern Roman occupation in the same year.

The popes, thoroughly irritated and alarmed, and despairing of aid from the Roman Emperor, turned to the Carolingian mayors of the palace of Austrasia, the effective rulers of the Frankish kingdom. In 741, Pope Gregory III asked Charles Martel to intervene, but he was too busy elsewhere and declined. In 753, Pope Stephen II visited Charles Martel's son Pepin the Short, who had been proclaimed king of the Franks in 751 with the consent of Pope Zachary. In gratitude for the papal consent to his coronation, Pepin crossed the Alps, defeated Aistulf, and gave to the pope the lands which Aistulf had torn from the ducatus Romanus and the exarchate (Emilia-Romagna and the Pentapolis).

Aistulf died hunting in 756. He was succeeded by Desiderius as king of the Lombards and by Alboin as duke of Spoleto. He had given Friuli to his brother-in-law Anselm, abbot of Nonantula, whose sister Gisaltruda he had married, when he succeeded to the kingship in 749.


Aldebert, or Adalbert, was a preacher in 8th century Gaul. He claimed that an angel had conferred miraculous powers on him at his birth and that another had brought him relics of great sanctity from all parts of the earth. He also claimed to be able to see the future and read people's thoughts, telling those who came to him that they had no need to confess, since he knew what they had done, and that their sins were forgiven.

Bell, book, and candle

The phrase "bell, book, and candle" refers to a Latin Christian method of excommunication by anathema, imposed on a person who had committed an exceptionally grievous sin. Evidently introduced by Pope Zachary around the middle of the 8th century, the rite was once used by the Roman Catholic Church. In current practice, a simple pronouncement is made to anathematize formally.

Childeric III

Childeric III (c. 717 – c. 754) was King of Francia from 743 until he was deposed by Pope Zachary in March 751 at the instigation of Pepin the Short. Although his parentage is uncertain, he is considered the last Frankish king from the Merovingian dynasty. Once Childeric was deposed, Pepin the Short, who was the father of emperor Charlemagne, was crowned the first king of the Franks from the Carolingian dynasty.

Duchy of Perugia

The Duchy of Perugia was a duchy (Latin: ducatus) in the Italian part of the Byzantine Empire. Its civil and military administration was overseen by a duke (dux) appointed by and under the authority originally of the Praetorian Prefect of Italy (554–584) and later of the Exarch of Ravenna (584–751). Its chief city and namesake was Perugia (Perusia), located at its centre. It was a band of territory connecting the Duchy of the Pentapolis to its northeast with the Duchy of Rome to its southwest, and separating the duchies of Tuscia (to its northwest) and Spoleto (to its southeast), both parts of the Lombard Kingdom of Italy. It was of great strategic significance to the Byzantines since it provided communication between Rome, the city of the Popes, and Ravenna, the capital of the Exarchate. Since it cut off the Duke of Spoleto from his nominal overlord, the king ruling from Pavia, it also disturbed the Lombard kingdom, which was a constant thorn in the Byzantines' side. This strategic importance meant that many Lombard and Byzantine armies passed through it.

Thomas Noble, an American historian, has surmised that by 739–740, when Pope Gregory III was negotiating with Charles Martel, Duke of the Franks, for assistance against the Lombards, the Pope already envisaged an independent republic of his "peculiar people" (peculiarem populum), meaning the inhabitants of the duchies of Perugia and Rome who, so remote from either Ravenna or the Byzantine capital, Constantinople, depended upon the Pope for defence and for their foreign relations. Hildeprand, the heir to the throne, and Peredeo, Duke of Vincenza, united to take Ravenna, probably in 737–740. According to the contemporary Lombard historian Paul the Deacon, this occurred before "the Romans, swollen with their accustomed pride, assembled on every side under the leadership of Agatho, duke of the Perugians, and came to seize Bononia (Bologna), where Walcari, Peredeo, and Rotcari were then staying in camp, but the latter rushed upon the Romans, made a great slaughter of them and compelled those who were left to seek flight." According to modern historians Georg Waitz, Jan Hallenbeck, and Paolo Delogu, this took place before the ephemeral conquest of Ravenna. The most common interpretation is that Agatho was trying to regain Bologna, which was a part of his duchy until it was conquered by Liutprand around 727–730, and in so doing broke a truce between the Byzantines and Lombards, thus provoking an assault on Ravenna.In 749, the Lombard king Ratchis invaded the duchies of Perugia and Pentapolis, besieging the capital city of the former. Pope Zachary met the king at Perugia and convinced him to lift the siege and abdicate to a monastery. It has been suggested that Ratchis was forced to attack Byzantine Italy by a part of Lombard nationalists, or conversely that he attacked because Zachary had broken the terms of his predecessor's Peace of Terni, a twenty-year truce. In any case, "all Italy was quiet" between Ratchis's accession in 745 and his attack on Perugia in 749, according to Zachary's biographer in the Liber pontificalis.With the collapse of the exarchate and the capture of Ravenna by the Lombards in 751, the duchy of Perugia was left under de facto Papal authority by 752. In a passage of the Ludovicianum that can date no earlier than 774, the cities of the Roman duchy are listed from north to south, with the cities of the duchy of Perugia added to those of Roman Tuscany, indicating that by the time of conquest of the Lombard kingdom by the Franks, Perugia had been incorporated into the Papally-ruled duchy of Rome. In fact, the duchy of Perugia as a distinct political unit cannot be charted later than the 740s.

Eutychius (exarch)

Eutychius was the last Exarch of Ravenna (c. 727–751).

The Exarchate of Ravenna had risen in revolt in 727 at the imposition of iconoclasm; the Exarch Paul lost his life attempting to quash the revolt. In response, Emperor Leo III the Isaurian (r. 717–741) sent the eunuch patrician Eutychius to take control of the situation. In certain historical works, Eutychius is mentioned as having served as exarch already in 710/11–713, between the tenures of John III Rizocopus and Scholasticus. This is however a modern interpolation based on an erroneous reading of the Liber pontificalis. Eutychius landed in Naples, where he called upon loyal citizens to assassinate Pope Gregory II. When the citizens responded by pledging to defend the Pope and to die in his defense, Eutychius turned his attention to the Lombards, offering King Liutprand and the Lombard dukes bribes if they would abandon Pope Gregory. Despite all of this, according to Jeffrey Richards, Pope Gregory persisted in his efforts to preserve imperial rule in Italy.Eutychius's efforts eventually gained results: King Liutprand came to an agreement with the Exarch, and agreed to support him in return for assistance in subjecting the duchies of Benevento and Spoleto. Pope Gregory, however, met with Liutprand, and convinced him to abandon the effort, then with Liutprand's help effected a reconciliation with Eutychius. When one Tiberius Petasius proclaimed himself emperor in Tuscia and Eutychius found himself critically short of manpower, Pope Gregory ordered the Roman army to help him put down the rebellion, and Petasius was killed.Conflict with the Lombards resulted in disaster in 737, when the exarchate's capital, Ravenna, was seized by Liutprand. Further warfare erupted in 739. Pope Gregory III had supported the dukes of Benevento and Spoleto against Liutprand, causing the latter to invade central Italy. The exarchate, as well as the Duchy of Rome, was ravaged and Ravenna fell to the Lombards; Eutychius was forced to go to the Venetian islands. He appealed to the inhabitants to help liberate Ravenna, and the Venetian fleet sailed with him to recover the city.Shortly after the accession of Pope Zachary in 741, Liutprand planned to campaign against the Lombard Duchy of Spoleto, which had defied him. Zachary, however, marched north to the Lombard capital of Pavia and convinced Liutprand to abort the expedition and to restore some of the territory he had captured. Nevertheless, Liutprand saw this treaty as between him and the Pope alone; in the words of Jeffrey Richards, "he still regarded the exarch as fair game." In 743, Liutprand marched on Ravenna, and Eutychius was so impoverished in resources that he, Archbishop John V of Ravenna, and the leading citizens petitioned the pope to intervene. Pope Zachary began a diplomatic offensive to dissuade Liutprand from conquering Ravenna, and on his journey to the Lombard court at Ticinum, he was met at the church of St. Christopher at Aquila by Exarch Eutychius and citizens of Ravenna. "The sight of the exarch begging the pope to save him from the Lombards testifies more powerfully than anything else to the utter enfeeblement of the exarchate and the effective transfer of authority in Catholic Byzantine Italy from the imperial governor to the pope," observes Richards. Pope Zachary was successful in convincing Liutprand to put off his intended campaign and return the rural districts around Ravenna he had seized.

Several years later, however, in 751, the Lombard king Aistulf captured Ravenna. The Exarchate came to an end, and Byzantine Italy was confined to Sicily and the southern, Greek-speaking regions.


Hildeprand (died 744), sometimes called the Useless, was the king of the Lombards from around 735 in association with his uncle, Liutprand. After Liutprand's death in 744, Hildeprand ruled in his own name until he was overthrown later that year by Ratchis, duke of Friuli.Hildeprand was a duke (dux) prior to his elevation to the throne. In 734 he participated in the successful siege of Byzantine Ravenna. Either just before or after the siege, Liutprand fell ill and was not expected to live. The leading Lombard noblemen elected Hildeprand as king, but Liutprand recovered. Although displeased with the election, he felt bound to accept Hildeprand as co-ruler. Liutprand himself had been elected while his father, Ansprand, was fatally ill. In both cases, the initiative to elect a successor was taken by the nobility. By 735, the diplomacy of Pope Gregory II had patched together an alliance between the Byzantine exarch, Eutychius, Duke Ursus of Venetia and Patriarch Antoninus of Grado. With a large Venetian fleet, the new allies retook Ravenna. In this second siege, Hildeprand and Duke Peredeo of Vicenza were captured by the Venetians, according to the Chronicon Venetum.In 739, while Liutprand was campaigning against the church in the Duchy of Rome, Hildeprand was ravaging the ecclesiastical lands around Ravenna. In August he was joined by Liutprand, who attacked the Pentapolis. By 743, Liutprand's health had again begun to fail, and there may have arisen a pro-papal party in the kingdom, led by Duke Ratchis. The next year Liutprand died and Hildeprand succeeded unopposed. He had proved himself an opponent of both the Byzantines and the Papacy, and within a few months he was overthrown by a revolt led by Ratchis, who immediately made peace with Pope Zachary.


Lucerius (died 740) was the third Abbot of Farfa, succeeding Aunepert in 724 at the latest. He was originally from Provence and had been raised at Farfa by Thomas of Maurienne, the first abbot. Lucerius' abbacy was a period of growth and expansion on the part of the abbey. In his first year, he received a grant of a church with its (unspecified) lands from Duke Thrasimund II of Spoleto. This church, dedicated to Saint Getulius, lay within the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Rieti, and according to the tenth-century Exceptio Relationum Thrasimund had to compensate the bishop for his loss.In 739 Lucerius received a privilege from King Liutprand confirming its possessions and granting it the freedom to elect its own abbots. In 729 Thrasimund had sworn loyalty to Liutprand, but in this year (739) he had renounced it. Liutprand marched an army into central Italy, forcing Thrasimund to flee to Rome and installing Hilderic as duke in Spoleto. The next year (740), with the aid of Pope Zachary, Thrasimund retook Spoleto and granted Farfa the right to graze its animals on the pasture of the settlement of Germaniciana and also granted it the tithes of that place.

Pepin the Short

Pepin the Short (German: Pippin der Kurze, French: Pépin le Bref, c. 714 – 24 September 768) was the King of the Franks from 751 until his death. He was the first of the Carolingians to become king.The younger son of the Frankish prince Charles Martel and his wife Rotrude, Pepin's upbringing was distinguished by the ecclesiastical education he had received from the monks of St. Denis. Succeeding his father as the Mayor of the Palace in 741, Pepin reigned over Francia jointly with his elder brother Carloman. Pepin ruled in Neustria, Burgundy, and Provence, while his older brother Carloman established himself in Austrasia, Alemannia and Thuringia. The brothers were active in suppressing revolts led by the Bavarians, Aquitanians, Saxons, and the Alemanni in the early years of their reign. In 743, they ended the Frankish interregnum by choosing Childeric III, who was to be the last Merovingian monarch, as figurehead king of the Franks.

Being well disposed towards the church and Papacy on account of their ecclesiastical upbringing, Pepin and Carloman continued their father's work in supporting Saint Boniface in reforming the Frankish church, and evangelising the Saxons. After Carloman, who was an intensely pious man, retired to religious life in 747, Pepin became the sole ruler of the Franks. He suppressed a revolt led by his half-brother Grifo, and succeeded in becoming the undisputed master of all Francia. Giving up pretense, Pepin then forced Childeric into a monastery and had himself proclaimed king of the Franks with support of Pope Zachary in 751. The decision was not supported by all members of the Carolingian family and Pepin had to put down a revolt led by Carloman's son, Drogo, and again by Grifo.

As King, Pepin embarked on an ambitious program to expand his power. He reformed the legislation of the Franks and continued the ecclesiastical reforms of Boniface. Pepin also intervened in favour of the Papacy of Stephen II against the Lombards in Italy. He was able to secure several cities, which he then gave to the Pope as part of the Donation of Pepin. This formed the legal basis for the Papal States in the Middle Ages. The Byzantines, keen to make good relations with the growing power of the Frankish empire, gave Pepin the title of Patricius. In wars of expansion, Pepin conquered Septimania from the Islamic Umayyads, and subjugated the southern realms by repeatedly defeating Waiofar and his Gascon troops, after which the Gascon and Aquitanian lords saw no option but to pledge loyalty to the Franks. Pepin was, however, troubled by the relentless revolts of the Saxons and the Bavarians. He campaigned tirelessly in Germany, but the final subjugation of these tribes was left to his successors.

Pepin died in 768 and was succeeded by his sons Charlemagne and Carloman. Although unquestionably one of the most powerful and successful rulers of his time, Pepin's reign is largely overshadowed by that of his more famous son.

Petronax of Monte Cassino

Saint Petronax of Monte Cassino (Italian: Petronace di Monte Cassino) (May 1, 670 – May 6, 747), called "The Second Founder of Monte Cassino", was an Italian monk and abbot who rebuilt and repopulated the monastery of Monte Cassino, which had been destroyed by the invading Lombards in the late sixth century.

A native of Brescia, Petronax had made a pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint Benedict in 717 after being advised to do so by Pope Gregory II. Monte Cassino was a ruin, but there were a few hermits who had nevertheless remained there. Petronax was elected their superior and other recruits soon joined the monastery.

Funds to restore the monastery came from noblemen such as the duke of Beneventum. Petronax received the monastic rule written in Benedict's own hand from Pope Zachary.

Both Saint Willibald and Saint Sturmius of Fulda were monks under Petronax.

Pope-elect Stephen

Pope-elect Stephen (d. 26 March 752) was a Roman priest elected pope in March 752 to succeed Zachary; he died of a stroke a few days later, before being consecrated a bishop. Therefore, he is not listed as a pope in the Annuario Pontificio.

In 745, Pope Zachary had made him a cardinal-priest, with the titulus of San Crisogono, the same titulus later held by Cardinal Frederick of Lorraine, who became Pope Stephen IX.

Pope Stephen II

Pope Stephen II (Latin: Stephanus II (or III); 714-26 April 757 a Roman aristocrat was Pope from 26 March 752 to his death in 757. He succeeded Pope Zachary following the death of Pope-elect Stephen (sometimes called Stephen II). Stephen II marks the historical delineation between the Byzantine Papacy and the Frankish Papacy.

Rome was facing invasion by the Kingdom of the Lombards. Pope Stephen II traveled all the way to Paris to seek assistance against the Lombard threat from Pepin the Short. Pepin had been anointed a first time in 751 in Soissons by Boniface, archbishop of Mainz, but named his price. With the Frankish nobles agreeing to campaign in Lombardy, the Pope consecrated Pepin a second time in a lavish ceremony at the Basilica of St Denis in 754, bestowing upon him the additional title of Patricius Romanorum (Latin for "Patrician of the Romans") in the first recorded crowning of a civil ruler by a Pope. Pepin defeated the Lombards – taking control of northern Italy – and made a gift (called the Donation of Pepin) of the properties formerly constituting the Exarchate of Ravenna to the pope, eventually leading to the establishment of the Papal States.

Pope Stephen III

Pope Stephen III (Latin: Stephanus III; d. 1 February 772) was the Pope from 7 August 768 to his death in 772.

Stephen was a Benedictine monk who worked in the Lateran Palace during the tenure of Pope Zachary. In the midst of a tumultuous contest by rival factions to name a successor to Pope Paul I, Stephen was elected with the support of the Roman officials. He summoned the Lateran Council of 769 which sought to limit the influence of the nobles in papal elections. The Council also opposed iconoclasm.


Ratchis (also spelled Rachis, Raditschs, Radics, Radiks) was the Duke of Friuli (739–744) and King of the Lombards (744–749). His father was Duke Pemmo. His Roman wife was Tassia. He ruled in peace until he besieged Perugia for reasons unknown. Pope Zachary convinced him to lift the siege, and he abdicated and entered the abbey of Montecassino with his family. After the death of Aistulf in 756, he tried once again to reign over the Lombards, but he was defeated by Desiderius and retired to a cloister.

Sandals of Jesus Christ

The Sandals of Jesus Christ were among the most important relics of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. They were donated to Prüm Abbey by Pope Zachary (741–752) and Pope Stephen II (752–757).

1st–4th centuries
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See also

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