CHAPTER THREE:

IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING



- chapter index -
pg. 1 - Epitaph | pg. 2 - The Iron Gates of Fate
pg. 3 - The Fate of All Mankind | pg. 4 - Moonchild
pg. 5 - The Court of the Crimson King | pg. 6 - The Purple Piper
pg. 7 - Averroes | pg. 8 - The Keeper of the City Keys
pg. 9 - The Pilgrim's Door | pg. 10 - The Return of the Fire Witch
pg. 11 - The Gardener Plants An Evergreen | pg. 12 - The Prism Ship
pg. 13 - The Grinding Wheel | pg. 14 - On Soft Gray Mornings
pg. 15 - Divining Signs | pg. 16 - The Yellow Jester
pg. 17 - Remember the Future | pg. 18 - The Return of the King
pg. 19 - The I Ching | pg. 20 - Octants

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The Eternal City | The Keeper of the City Keys


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"The keeper of the city keys
Put shutters on the dreams."


"Thomas Aquinas, the son of a country nobleman, who, like his master, the Emperor Frederick II, had an inveterate mistrust of towns, nevertheless introduced the image of the city into his theology as an analogy of the Church and the cosmos."

- The Medieval World by Friedrich Heer (p. 48)

While the "city" refers to the Church, "keys" also allude to the authority of the Pope.

The Keys of the Kingdom

"The origin of the Church's power regarding indulgences may be traced to the granting to Peter of the keys..."

- Indulgences: How They Work

"He (the Pope) has received a sacred trust that demands that the keeper of the keys speak as Christ spoke, as Saint Peter spoke -- with authority."

- The Stone Which the Builders Reject

"It was precisely in support of this concept that Innocent IV had written: 'We rule upon the earth...with absolute authority to bind and loose, and thereby nothing is excluded.'(p. 488)

- The Emperor Frederick II von Hohenstaufen Immutator Mundi
by Thomas Curtis Van Cleve

"Among the grounds for the charge of heresy were Frederick's contempt of the pope's prerogative of the keys..."

- History of the Christian Church

"He accused Gregory of issuing disspensations without the concurrence of the Cardinals but in exchange for money. Like a huckster who acts as his own clerk and sets his own seal, and mayhap is also his own paymaster, Gregory sits in his closet binding and loosing."

- Frederick II
by Ernst Kantorowicz
(p. 497)

"The Pope who had long since made full preparation, invaded the kingdom of Sicily with his own soldiers--the first army to fight as Soldiers of the Keys under the banner of Peter."

- Frederick II
by Ernst Kantorowicz
(p.177)



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For Frederick II the idea of the "city" consisted not only of the Church (Papal Rome) but also "the city" itself, the Rome of the Caesars.

"Rome, golden eternal, mighty glorious, world-conquering. . . . Rome, the Mistress of the City of Cities, the fortunate, the royal, the holy city. . . . The City, seat of empire and of fame . . . ! No adjective was too august to be used in antiquity and in the Middle Ages to do honour to the still-radiant glory of the one capital of the world. Each of the Emperors showed honour to Rome by making a pilgrimage to the town in which the crown of the world was given away.
Since the decline of Rome the wish to renew her ancient glory had never died out. The Roman Empire of the Germans was itself the idea of the Renovatio , and the inscription of the Carolingian seal read : Renovatio Imperii .
The dream of a Rome renewed remained alive in the German Empire until the fall of the Hohenstaufens."

- Frederick II
by Ernst Kantorowicz
(p. 441-3)

"Frederick himself repeatedly emphasized his lofty aims, as when he wrote:

'From our earliest days...our heart has never ceased to burn with the desire to re-establish in the position of their ancient dignity the founder of the Roman Empire and its foundress Rome herself.'

"Throughout his reign the basic plan for the future Empire was never to change... In the recognition of this basic plan...is to be found the significance...of his belief in the necessity of possessing the city of Rome itself as the centre of empire."

- The Emperor Frederick II von Hohenstaufen Immutator Mundi
by Thomas Curtis Van Cleve (p. 101 & 241)

"Frederick wrote to the Romans that he hoped to see again the borders of Latium and to be Caesar in the home of the Caesars : that would be for himself and for the world the ultimate fulfilment.
An Emperor celebrating a triumph in Rome itself would, in some mystic way, become possessed of all the kingdoms of the West. Rome was the key to the ultimate Empire of Peace : He who should renew the Augustan Age on earth must reign in Rome and judge the peoples of the earth according to Roman Law.
'His heart beat with no other purpose than to be Lord and Master of the Whole World . . .' Brunetto Latini declared later, and other contemporaires exchanged similar whispers. The world-dominion of which Frederick dreamed, however, contained no threat to neighboring rulers. 'At the height of imperial fortune, content with our own lot, fulfilled with supreme happiness, we envy none. . . .' The Roman world-dominion of this Hohenstaufen was not to be won on the battlefields of Gaul or Spain, of Egypt or of Poland, but in Rome. Frederick II concentrated all his plans on Rome. The modern mind expects organic growth to proceed centrifugally, its ever-widening circles stretching further and further into actual space. In contrast this last Emperor in his ascent to the dominion of the world drew his centriputal circles ever narrower and closer. His task was to penetrate to the innermost recesses of the Empire, as his office entitled him to do, and condense all the widely-diffused spiritual influences of the Empire at its very heart."

- Frederick II
by Ernst Kantorowicz
(p. 444-5)


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"The keeper of the city keys
Put shutters on the dreams."


"More and more narrowly, more and more closely Frederick drew his circles round the centre of the Empire : suddenly he stands before Rome. The road from Viterbo lies open before him. Shall he now end his fantastic tour of victory with the sack of Rome, take the Pope prisoner like any ordinary enemy general--and make the Church the gift of another martyr ? To Frederick this road was barred. Only as the Caesar Augustus of prophecy, only without a blow as Prince of Peace, could he enter the City of Cities. This he planned to do. 'One deed is left to do. If the whole Roman people is in our favor and greets our coming with rejoicing as it has begun to do, then we should prepare joyfully to enter the city.'
The Emperor's partisans in Rome intrigued all the more ardently against the Pope, whose position became from day to day more untenable. All portents were against him. While he warned his towns against the machinations of Antichrist he saw town after town opening its gates to the Savior. Not only the Roman people turned their backs on the aged fanatic. His cardinals were no longer to be trusted. The majority were hostile. Some had already left him. By his passionate obstinacy the old man had brought himself and the Church to the verge of destruction. He stood alone. his caused seemed lost.
Meanwhile the excitement in Rome was at its height. The Emperor had started on the march to Rome. Only one or two days march separated him from the city. The papalists spread the wildest rumours. What did that avail ! The Antichrist, the Monster had sworn, they cried, to turn St. Peter's into a stable and to make the altar of the apostles a manger for his steeds, to cast the body of his Lord to the dogs . . . he was approaching with his wild Saracens to overthrow the chair of St. Peter. With his new rites he would outvie the 'three impostors,' revive the practice of heathen times, would have himself installed as Pope or even God in the holiest of holies ! None of these terrifying suggestions carried weight. The Romans intoxicated themselves with the 'resounding words, the mighty gestures, the awe-inspiring deeds' of their Caesar and Imperator and shouted for joy at the approach of the laurel-crowned Deliverer.

Frederick II wearing the laurel crown

The fate of the world was balanced on a knife's edge.

But Rome, 'the harlot who offers herself for sale to any man who draws near,' as the contemporary chronicler phrases it, had not been vainly depicted on the seals as a woman with a palm branch in one hand and in the other a globe, reposing on a lion, symbol of world rule which Pope or Emperor could exercise only in her name. He was the victor who first won her favour. Pope Gregory IX had waited long. Now in the hour of utmost need he turned for help to the saints of Rome, the two apostles. It was the festival of Peter's chair. In spite of riot and unrest the Pope ordered the usual ceremonies to be carried out : the heads of the Princes of the Apostles, Paul and Peter, splinters of the true cross, and other relics of Christian Rome were borne in solemn procession to St. Peter's. He himself, the aged man--reputed to be a hundred--paced along shrouded in incense amidst his prelates and the faithful cardinals. The crowd greeted him with boisterous mockery. Pope Gregory, however, at other times so hot-headed, preserved a royal calm. He pointed to the heads of the apostles : 'These are the antiquities of Rome, for whose sake your city is venerated ! This is the Church, these are the relics, which it is your duty, Romans, to protect ! I can do no more than one man may ; but I do not flee, lo, here I await the mercy of the Lord !' And taking the tiara from his head he placed it protectively over the relics of the saints. 'Ye Holy Ones ! Protect ye Rome when the Romans care for her no more !' Whereupon the mocking multitude broke into sobs, snatched from their garments the imperial eagles, tokens of Antichrist, and replaced them by the sign of the Cross, prepared to fight for their threatened Church. Caesar in the purple of the Triumphator was forgotten. Frederick II passed by the capital of the world; and proceeded to his kingdom of Apulia."

- Frederick II
by Ernst Kantorowicz
(p. 514-16)

" In spite of enemies within the city, the aged pontiff went forth from the Lateran in solemn procession, supplicating deliverance and accompanied by all the clergy, carrying the heads of the Apostles Peter and Paul. When Frederick retreated, it seemed as if the city had been delivered by a miracle."

- History of the Christian Church

"The slender hold of the pope on the city of Rome and the surrounding lands was almost the only obstacle to the emperor's dream being realised."

- The Church in Crisis: A History of the General Councils: 325-1870

In 1241 Frederick found himself again at the gates of Rome.

"Frederick now gathered all his strength for a final thrust against Rome. His prospects were on the whole better than last year ; the Pope's position was hopeless.
Nothing now lay between the Emperor and his longed-for Roman triumph. He had now determined, whatever might be the outcome, to use open force against the Pope, and he had no lack of fighting strength. In June he had captured Tierni and then lay before Rieti, and was now advancing nearer to Rome itself. In August Tivoli opened its gates to him, and his troops were laying waste the country up to the walls of Rome. Frederick was already comparing himself to the 'Libyan Hannibal' before the gates of Rome. At this moment, when Frederick was about to strike the final blow, news came from Rome that Pope Gregory was dead. The Pope had for the second time snatched the certain conquest of Rome from the hand of his hated foe : Frederick's sword a second time smote empty air. Pope Gregory had played his last card. No enemy was left, for the Emperor was fighting neither Church, nor Pope, nor Rome, but only Gregory : and Gregory was dead."

- Frederick II
by Ernst Kantorowicz
(p. 559)

The Pope also obstructed Frederick's plan during his war with the Lombards.

"Finally, when for a moment the Emperor's military progress seemed to have come to a standstill, the Pope suddenly unmasked, abruptly shattering the dream of unity : "Thou seest"-he wrote-"the necks of kings and princes bent under the knee of the priest, and the Christian Emperors must subject their actions not to the Roman Pontiff alone : they have not even the right to rank him above another priest." This is the famous notorious phrase of priestly omnipotence, which Gregory was the first to formulate, and which he launched somewhat prematurely, against Frederick II. He far exceeded the claims made by his predecessors, for he subordinated the Emperor to every petty cleric and in matters other than spiritual. The verdict of the Apolostic See was supreme throughout the world, declared Pope Gregory, which was the equivalent of saying that Frederick must submit without protest to the Pope's decree in the Lombardy affair, although this quarrel between the Emperor and the rebels had in the last resort nothing whatever to do with the Pope."

- Frederick II
by Ernst Kantorowicz
(p. 428-9)

The keeper of the keys to Rome put shutters on the dreams of Frederick II.




In the Court of the Crimson King ~ Averroes return to
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