Following the end of the Roman Empire the ‘patrimony of Saint Peter’ consisted of a jumble of far-flung estates bequeathed to the papacy by wealthy Romans in the twilight of the Empire. However, the Byzantine Emperor had confiscated papal estates in southern Italy, Sicily and Illyricum during the great Iconoclastic Schism and by the 750s only those adjacent to Rome, the Duchy of Rome, remained. The Donation of Pepin refers to the Frankish king Pepin the Short, who delivered conquered Lombard territory to the papacy in 757, providing a legal basis for the erection of the papal states, and revitalizing the papacy as a temporal power, based in the city of Rome. Under Pope Leo IV (r. 847–55) many of the churches in Rome, which had been damaged during Saracen raids, were restored. He was also responsible for building the Leonine Wall around the Vatican Hill. These defences would protect Rome’s sacred centre against further attacks.
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