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Donation of Constantine


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A document fabricated probably during the 8th century, in which the emperor Constantine I purportedly grants to the Papacy temporal dominion over Italy and other western regions. Used throughout much of the Middle Ages as evidence in justifying Papal claims in secular affairs, it was demonstrated to be false in the 15th century.


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  • There were documents upon which men depended as authoritative which proved to be other than what they pretended to be, for example, the famous false Decretals, and particularly that one called the Donation of Constantine, which, it had been thought, gave its title to the temporal power of the Papacy.

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  • From this time, we perceive, it was attempted to make the world believe in what is called the Donation of Constantine, which was, in the sequel, for a period of five hundred years, not merely regarded as an article of faith, but an incontestable truth.

    A Philosophical Dictionary

  • Loren Rosen at The Busybody and Stephen Carlson at Hypotyposeis are discussing what should be on the list of the top 20 literary fakes of all time, including The Donation of Constantine at #1 position.

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  • _Donation of Constantine_, and wrote epigrams on the popes.

    The Age of the Reformation

  • To strengthen this feeling and to intensify the stimulating qualities of this new atmosphere came, as we have seen, the researches and revelations of Valla regarding the forged Letter of Christ to Abgarus, the fraudulent Donation of Constantine, and the late date of the Apostles 'Creed; and, to give this feeling direction toward the Hebrew and Christian sacred books, came the example of Erasmus.

    A History of the warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom

  • He declares that the ground of this grant was the ownership of all islands conveyed to the popes by the Donation of Constantine, and he adds that

    The History of England from the Norman Conquest to the Death of John (1066-1216)

  • Aeneas Sylvius laughed at the Donation of Constantine, and wrote an account of his own Conclave in the tone of a fin de siecle journalist.

    Lectures on Modern history


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