Polityka, przyjaźnie i podarunki w świetle korespondencji papieża Grzegorza Wielkiego
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POLITICS, FRIENDSHIPS, AND GIFTS IN THE LIGHT OF THE CORRESPONDENCE OF POPE GREGORY THE GREAT (590-604)Among persons exercising authority or holding high offi ces, gifts served many purposes, some important. They were part of respective ceremonial, won favors, broadened infl uences, persuaded donees, or won desired concessions. They could be helpful in propagating the giver’s ideas. Types of gifts and channels of delivery may be studied in offi cial and private accounts of participants in gift giving. All this was clear to pope Gregory I the Great (590-604). With carefully chosen gifts, he knew how to secure the support of barbarian Western rulers (queen Theodolinda of the Lombards and her son, queen Brunhilda of the Franks, the Visigothic king Reccared, king Ethelbert of Kent). Among such gifts predominated relics (in particular, pieces of St. Peter’s shackles) and books by Gregory himself. There were also other items such as garments.Many recipients of his gifts were people he had met when he was papal apocrisiary in Constantinople. It is all the more surprising, therefore, that he refused to send relics to empress Constantina, the wife of Mauricius.The pope was very careful in using the instrument of gift giving. Sometimes he used it to thank people to whom he owed something, but did not try to use it to win concessions he thought important. No gifts are on record to imperial offi cials in Italy or other Western lands, such as to exarchs, praetors of Sicily, prefects of the preatorium of Italy and Carthage. His frequent gifts of relics of St. Peter’s shackles helped spread the cult of this saint in all of Europe.Even more cautious was Gregory in receiving presents, perhaps fearing that they might be thought a form of bribery. He readily accepted gifts from friends and donations for the freeing of prisoners or assisting the poor, but steadfastly refused anything that might look suspicious. Among those rejected were gifts from Felix, bishop of Messina, or Januarius, bishop of Caralis.
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