This article explores the degree to which the rule and style of the bishops of Rome after the deposition of the last Roman emperor in the West in 476 had any imperial elements, in the light of the evidence contained within the Liber pontificalis. Papal rule in Rome was cast as a replacement of imperial rule in religious matters, an opportunity for the bishop to assume political responsibility and also a deliberate emulation of imperial behaviour. This is manifest above all in the textual record in the Liber pontificalis of the papal embellishment of Rome, and in the physical evidence of the extant basilicas of the city. The deliberately imperial elements of papal self-presentation and the importance of Rome's primacy, apostolic succession and orthodoxy, all articulated so emphatically within the Liber pontificalis, indicate the multitude of strands by which the papacy wove the fabric of its own imperium or power.
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