http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorenzo_VallaExposing historical hoaxes
Valla's originality, critical acumen, and knowledge of classical Latin style were put to good use in an essay he wrote between 1439 and 1440, De falso credita et ementita Constantini Donatione declamatio. In this he demonstrated that the document known as the Constitutum Constantini (or "donatio Constantini" as he refers to it in his writings), or the Donation of Constantine, could not possibly have been written in the historical era of Constantine I (4th Century), as its vernacular style dated conclusively to a later era (8th Century). One of Valla's reasons was that the document contained the word satrap which he believed Romans such as Constantine I would not have used. The document, though met with great criticism at its introduction, was accepted as legitimate, in part owing to the beneficial nature of the document for the western church. The Donation of Constantine suggests that Constantine I "donated" the whole of the Western Roman Empire to the Roman Catholic Church as an act of gratitude for having been miraculously cured of leprosy by Pope Sylvester I. This would have obviously discounted Pepin the Short's own Donation of Pepin, which gave the Lombards land to the north of Rome.
Valla was motivated to reveal the Donation of Constantine as a fraud by his employer of the time, Alfonso of Aragon, who was involved in a territorial conflict with the Papal States, then under Pope Eugene IV. The Donation of Constantine had often been cited to support the temporal power of the Papacy, since at least the 11th century.
The essay began circulating in 1440, but was heavily rejected by the Church. It was not formally published until 1517. It became popular among Protestants. An English translation was published for Thomas Cromwell in 1534. Valla's case was so convincingly argued that it still stands today, and the illegitimacy of the Donation of Constantine is generally conceded.
In 1433 Valla made his way to Naples, to the court of Alfonso V of Aragon, who made Valla his private Latin secretary and defended him against the attacks on account of his public statements about theology, including one in which he denied that the Apostles' Creed was composed in succession by each of the twelve Apostles. These charges were eventually dropped.
Donation of Constantine
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the forged imperial decree. For the painting by students of Raphael inspired by the decree, see The Donation of Constantine (painting).
The Donation of Constantine (Latin, Donatio Constantini) is a forged Roman imperial decree by which the emperor Constantine I supposedly transferred authority over Rome and the western part of the Roman Empire to the pope. During the Middle Ages, the document was often cited in support of the Roman Church's claims to spiritual and earthly authority. Italian Catholic priest and humanist Lorenzo Valla is credited with first exposing the forgery with solid philological arguments, although doubts on the document's authenticity had already been cast by this time. Scholars have since dated the forgery between the eighth and ninth centuries.
He appears, however, as a vain, jealous and quarrelsome man, but he combined the qualities of an elegant humanist, an acute critic and a venomous writer, who had committed himself to a violent polemic against the temporal power of Rome. In him posterity honors not so much the scholar and the stylist as the man who initiated a bold method of criticism, which he applied alike to language, to historical documents and to ethical opinions. Luther had a very high opinion of Valla and of his writings, and Cardinal Bellarmine calls him praecursor Lutheri, while Sir Richard Jebb says that his De Elegantiis "marked the highest level that had yet been reached in the critical study of Latin." Erasmus stated in his De ratione studii that for Latin Grammar, there was "no better guide than Lorenzo Valla.
D - as always, a whole lotta power play politics behind the thin veneer of doctrinal points and canon.