Sunday, 16 September 2012

Donation of Constantine

A document and decree purporting to having been drawn up by Emperor Constantine the Great conferring upon Pope Sylvester I (314-35) and his successors, the bishops of Rome, and the Roman Church, a set of huge privileges, as well as rich possessions. 

Its second part (the "Donatio") Constantine specifically grants, among other things, Pope Sylvester the following privilege:that the pope, as the legitimate successor of St. Peter, was to have primacy over the four Patriarchs of Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Jerusalem, and also over all the bishops in the world.

At the time of the Becket controversy it was accepted as having full authenticity and legal authority by the Roman Church within the system of Canon Law. Centuries later it was proved to be a complete forgery.


Kirsch, Johann Peter. "Donation of Constantine." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 16 Sept. 2012 <>

The Donation of Constantine as Applied by the Roman Church
F. Zinkeisen
The English Historical Review
Vol. 9, No. 36 (Oct., 1894), pp. 625-632
Published by: Oxford University Press
Article Stable URL:

Once I Was A Clever Boy blog- St Sylvester and the Donation of Constantine

The Donation of Constantine had the force of Canon Law and was included in Gratian's Decretals

The "Donation" increassed the power of Popes over kings, especially kingdoms which were islands as the "Donation" clearly granted those which had been part of the Roman Empire [or Christendom] were automatically assigned to the Pope for the welfare and upkeep/maintenance of his Church, islands such as Corsica, Ireland [which had never been part of the Roman Empire but definitely part of Christendom] and even  England were in the Pope's gift.

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