St. Leo III, Pope 795-816
Muntoni 1; Berman 14, Nearly Very Fine
Rome. + · SCS · PETRVS, monogram of St. Leo III. Reverse: + CARLVS, J203 of IMP.
Pope Leo III continued the policies of Hadrian I to further establish a Papacy independent of the Patriarch in Constantinople and Byzantine influence. On Christmas Day of 800, he took the unprecedented step of crowning the Frankish king Charlemagne as emperor of a new political entity designated the Holy Roman Empire, which would survive in various forms until 1806. This coronation deeply offended the reigning Byzantine Empress Irene, but she was powerless to stop it. Interestingly, at the same time that Leo III was creating a great political rift with Constantinople, he opposed the introduction of the word filioque (“and the Son”) into the Nicene Creed as preferred by many western bishops in order to explicitly combat the popular Arian Christian belief that God the Son is distinct from and subordinate to God the Father. The later insertion of this word served as basis for the Great Schism in the Church.