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In exchange for this support, Nicholas proclaimed Richard Prince of Capua and Robert "Duke of Apulia and Calabria by the grace of God and of St. Peter; and, with their help in the future, Duke of Sicily."22 The Normans were no longer brigands, pirates, and mercenaries, but instead they were established European rulers, "by the grace of God and of St. Peter." Beyond this, even, they had entered into an agreement with Nicholas similar to the one between Popes Zachary and Steven II and the Frankish King Pepin the Short in 754, and the one between Pepin's son Charlemagne and Pope Leo III in 800.23 Now it was the Normans who had become guardians of the Papacy: they thus subsumed the role of the Frankish Kings and Holy Roman Emperors.

In practical terms, Richard and Robert held secular power over the Pope, since he was compelled to look to them for protection. But the agreement also implies that the Normans had a practical need to be Nicholas' vassals. It was essential for the Normans that he confer these titles upon them in order to fulfill their political ambitions, tighten their claims to power, and provide them with prestige and recognition. They acknowledged that Nicholas held spiritual authority over them, since he was the source of their legitimacy. At this time, ecclesiastical reformers such as Nicholas were asserting more and more the principle of divine hierarchy: it was God's will that spiritual authority be superior to secular authority. In order to be legitimate, then, secular authority needed to conform to this divinely ordained hierarchical ordering of Christian society, and so

22. Oath of Robert Guiscard to Pope Nicholas II (August 1059), trans. in ibid. 44.
23. Ibid. 16-23. When barbarian invasions pushed the authority of the Eastern Roman Empire out of Italy, and the Greeks' heresy of Iconoclasm alienated Eastern Christians from Western Christians, the Papacy looked to the Franks for protection. Zachary authorized the coronation of Pepin, who then donated the cities he conquered from the Lombards and the Greeks in Italy to Stephen. Charlemagne went to Rome to protect Pope Leo from the attacks of a dissident faction, and Leo subsequently crowned him Holy Roman Emperor.
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