On the Donation of Constantine
The Donation of Constantine was the most famous forgery in European history. It purported to grant Sylvester, Bishop of Rome from 314-336, legal title to Rome, all of Italy, and the western provinces, to remain forever under the Roman See. This document was almost universally accepted as genuine from the ninth to the fifteenth century. It was cited by at least ten Popes, along with other writers, in contentions for the recognition of papal control, and greatly contributed to the prestige of the Papacy. Lorenzo Valla, perhaps the greatest of the professional Italian humanists during the Renaissance, subjected the document to historical analysis in this important work that forever dismantled the Donation of Constantine's authenticity.