The papacy of Gregory I
The real creator of the Church's temporal power was Gregory I, called "the Great" (the great), who was pope from 590 to 604. Pope Gregory I came from the family of Anicii (one of the oldest of the senatorial aristocracy) and had been ambassador to the court of Constantinople. Pope Gregory, strong-willed man and skillful, had the task of organizing the defense and the procurement of Rome and the surrounding area, thus assuming the role of a political leader. He treated both with the Duke of Spoleto and the king Agilulf to save Rome during the first decades of the Lombard expansion. After his death, this policy direction was continued by his successors, who became leading figures on the historical scene of medieval Europe. In this way, while in the East the patriarch of Constantinople was strictly controlled by the imperial state in the West, the Pope was able to gradually develop their own power and authority free from any interference. Gregory did not merely administer the territory of Rome, but took a real foreign policy independently. In fact he sought to carve out a role in the clashes between the Lombards and Byzantines; He was then in diplomatic correspondence with the courts of the Roman-barbarian kingdoms and treated as an equal with the emperor of the East. In the courts of Western Europe his prestige as head of the Catholic Church made him particularly influential, we should not also underestimate the influence of the king Germanic clerics and monks, the only keepers of the culture.
Among the major initiatives of Gregory the Great must be remembered also, in addition to the process of Christianization of the Lombards, also that of the Anglo-Saxon peoples, for he sent among other things with them missionaries, so that it might take place the work of evangelization, Augustine of Canterbury, who in 601 he was named "Primate" of England (that is the most important diocese bishop of that state). Political action, missionary and administrator were joined later intellectual activity: Gregory was in fact the author of several works on theology and church, which were strongholds of medieval culture.