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Milton V. Anastos

Constantinople and Rome

A Survey of the Relations between the Byzantine and the Roman Churches.

M. Anastos, Aspects of the Mind of Byzantium (Political Theory, Theology, and Ecclesiastical Relations with the See of Rome), Ashgate Publications, Variorum Collected Studies Series, 2001. ISBN: 0 86078 840 7.

16. The Patriarch Photius and his disputes with Rome

The climax to these years of controversy came in the latter part of the ninth century, when Photius (ca: 820-91, patriarch 858-67, 877-86), the nephew of Patriarch Tarasius (784-806), dominated the Eastern Church. The conflict continued very much along the same lines except that the issues were complicated henceforth by the Byzantine attack that Photius initiated on the Latin dogma of the double procession of the Holy Spirit, the Latin use of unleavened bread in the eucharist, and the Latin insistence on clerical celibacy.

Photius was the greatest scholar of his day, and a man of commanding genius.
But he had many enemies, who represented him to the West as an archheretic and foe of church unity. At least, this had been the prevailing view about Photius in the Roman Catholic circles, until Dvornik made the necessary rectifications in the reading of the record.(145) Ιn the Byzantine Church, on the other hand, he is venerated (on February 6) as a saint and celebrated as one of the great heroes of the faith.

Photius's predecessor on the patriarchal throne was an obscurantist eunuch named Ignatius (847-58, 867-77), who, it was once believed, had been deposed by the Emperor Michael ΙΙΙ in 858 to make way for a candidate more pleasing to the Emperor's uncle, Bardas, the actual ruler of the Empire, who was much interested in scholarship and education. For the dour Ignatius, the antithesis of the learned and versatile Photius, was the head of the conservative anti-intellectual monastic party that was opposed to the use of logic and philosophy in theological discussion. Actually, it has now been demonstrated, Ignatius voluntarily abdicated, and was not forcibly removed from his post. Nevertheless, many objected to Photius's elevation to the patriarchate because before his election he had been a layman and had been promoted through the various ecclesiastical ranks in one week. This, Photius's enemies contended, was uncanonical, although in point of fact several others, including the Patriarchs Ρaul III (688-94), Tarasius (784-806), and Nicephorus (806-15), had risen to the patriarchal throne by the same path.

At the very beginning of his career Photius had difficulty with Pope Nicholas Ι (858-67), who insisted that Photius's election was invalid and that Ignatius was the only true Patriarch, although papal legates had already confirmed the deposition of Ignatius and the election of Photius at a synod held in Constantinople in 861.
But Nicholas disavowed this confirmation of Photius's position on the ground that his legates had not been empowered by him to deal with this question, and secured a formal condemnation of Photius at a Roman synod which met in 863.

Nevertheless, Nicholas held open the possibility that he could be induced to change his mind on this matter if, as it was well understood in Constantinople from the demands made by the papal envoys who visited Constantinople in 861, the Byzantine Church would restore the patrimonies of Sicily and Calabria that the Emperor Leo ΙΙΙ had confiscated in 732-33, together with jurisdiction over Illyricum, which also had been lost by Rome in the same year.

Nicholas was especially anxious to resume ecclesiastical control over Ιllyricum, both because Rome had always prized the prerogatives it had once enjoyed in this part of the Empire, and because he had been encouraged to believe that the pagan Bulgarians then established in these regions were receptive to conversion to the Roman brand of Christianity. If the Bulgarians actually did join the Roman Church, as he expected them to do, he would gain not only a substantial number of new converts but also a strong Roman Catholic bulwark against the rising power of the Byzantine patriarchate, which he looked upon with foreboding.

It should be noted, however, that the Roman aspirations along these lines eventually came to nothing primarily because of papal intolerance of the Βulgarian passion for ecclesiastical autonomy, which, among other things, found expression in the demand for the use of the native language in the liturgy, instead of Latin. The Byzantines encouraged this form of nationalistic expression, but the Roman
Church made no concessions in this direction until the Council of Ferrara-Florence in 1438-39.

Meanwhile, the Byzantine government was apprehensive about the growing strength of the Franks, who at this time were threatening to overrun Moravia and press on into the Balkans, where their presence in force would endanger Byzantium both politically and ecclesiastically. Τo meet this challenge, the Byzantines suddenly joined forces with the Moravians and marched into Βulgarian territory. Τhe Bulgarians capitulated at once (864), and many were converted to Byzantine Christianity, including Boris, their king, who was baptized in 865 as Boris-Michael.(146)

Ιn the same year the Byzantine Emperor Michael ΙΙΙ wrote a sharp note to Pope Nicholas, strongly defending the Byzantine decisions concerning Photius. Ιn the course of his argument, which we know only from Nicholas's reply, Michael cast aspersion upon Latin as a barbarous, Scythian language. This annoyed the Pope, who also took offense at Michael's reference to Rome as "Old Rome," not realizing that in Byzantine circles this was regarded as a term of respect.(147)

Although Photius had been delighted by the accession of the Bulgarians to the Byzantine Church, he refused to grant Boris a patriarch of his own. Ιn pique, Boris then (866) turned to Pope Nicholas, who made an affable reply, in which he pointed out, in the manner of Leo Ι and Gelasius Ι, that Constantinople did not really count as a patriarchate at all, since it was not founded by an apostle, and, therefore, stood below Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch.

Alarmed by this turn of events, the Byzantine clergy held a synod at Constantinople in 867, which formally condemned Nicholas and sharply attacked a number of Latin ecclesiastical practices. This was the first time that Photius had struck back at Nicholas, and we may suppose he was led to do so both by his anxiety to make a strong impression οn the Bulgarians, whom he wished to regain for Byzantine orthodoxy, and because he felt that the time had come to reply to the insulting remarks the Pope had made about the rank of the see of Constantinople. He was concerned also by Nicholas's bold assertion of the supremacy of the Roman see over both Church and State. None of his predecessors had been so forthright and uncompromising οn these issues as Nicholas, whose works helped militant popes like Gregory VII (1073-85), Ιnnocent ΙΙΙ (1198-1216), and Boniface VIII (1294-1303) to formulate the doctrine of papal authority in its extremist form.

But before Photius could proceed further with countermeasures, his patron, Michael ΙΙΙ, was murdered by Basil Ι (867-86). The latter favoured the extremists, removed Photius, who was the leader of the moderate party, and restored Ignatius (867-77) tο the patriarchal throne. Τwο years later, Photius was subjected to abuse and anathematisation at a Constantinopolitan synod that designated itself, and was later erroneously known, as the Eighth Oecumenical Council. Nevertheless, the missionary activities Photius had initiated among the Bulgarians prospered once more, and Boris-Michael together with the Βulgarian Church abandoned Rome to return again finally in 870 tο Byzantine orthodoxy.

The balance was nοw being redressed in favour of Photius, who, upon Ignatius's
death in 877, was reinstated as Patriarch, and held office until 886, when the new Emperor, Leo VI (886-912), demanded his resignation. Βut while Photius was still Patriarch, the Constantinopolitan Synod of 879-80 repudiated the anti-Photian Synod of 869-70, and received the sanction and approval of Pope John VIII in 880, who concurred in the annulment and cοndemnation of the anti-Photian decrees of his predecessors, Nicholas Ι and Hadrian ΙΙ.(148) Ιn exchange for John's favourable verdict, Photius and Basil Ι agreed to turn over Bulgaria to Roman ecclesiastical
Colonization. But Rome never derived any benefit from the Byzantine surrender οn this point because Boris-Michael had decided to form an independent church of his οwn, which, however, followed the Byzantine tradition rather than the Roman.

Nevertheless, neither John VIII nοr any of his immediate successors ever subsequently disowned or excommunicated Photius, and the whole account of their having done so belongs to the realm of phantasy. The fable that Photiust had been condemned by Rome did not arise until the end of the eleventh century, when canonists in the entourage of Pope Gregory VII (1013-85) were attracted by the arguments against lay investiture that they found in the canons of the anti-Photian Synod of 869-70. They took the latter at its face value and eagerly proclaimed it as the Eighth Oecumenical Council, although the distinguished
canonists Deusdedit and Ιvo of Chames had had some hesitation about its authority and oecumenicity.

But these doubts were so effectively brushed aside by Gratian in his Concordantia
discordantium canonum (ca. 1150) that the memory of the papal chancery's reversal in the matter of Photius and in the subsequent rehabilitation of Photius by John VΙΙI was effaced from the record, having been suppressed by Gratian in accordance with his principle of reconciling contradictory canons.


145. - Dvornik, The Ρhotian schism (cited in note 62 above); idem, "The Patriarch Photius in the light of recent research" (cited in note 140 above), gives a full bibliography.The Homilies of Photius are now available in a new edition of the Greek text by Basileios Laurdas, 2 vols. (Thessalonike, 1959); and in English translation by Cyril Mango (Dumbarton Oaks Studies, 3 [Cambridge, Mass., 1958]). See also Β. Laurdas, "Α new letter of Photius to Boris," Hellenika, 13 (1954), 263-65; Georg Hofmann, Photius et ecclesia Romans: Documenta notis illustrata, 2 vols. (Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana, Textus et documenta, Ser. theol. 6 and 8 [Rome, 1932]). Though superseded by Dvornik so far as the relations of Photius with Rome are concerned, J. Her-genröther, Photius, Patriarch νon Constantinopel, 3 vols. (Regensburg, 1867-69), still retains its value, especially for literature and theology; n.b. 3, 170 ff, 186 ff., and passim. Cf. Martin Jugie, Theologia dogmatica, 1, 179-263; Josef Slipy, "Die Τrinitätslehre des byzantinischen Patriarchen Photios," Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie, 44 (1920), 538-62; 45 (1921), 66-95, 370-404; Κ. Ziegler, "Photios," RE, 20, 1, 667-737. On Photius as a saint, see Μ. Jugie, "Le culte de Photius dans l'église byzantine," ROC, 23 (1922-23), 105-22; Α. Papadopulos-Kerameus, "The Patriarch Photius as a holy father of the Orthodox Catholic Church" (in Greek), ΒΖ, 8 (1899), 646-71. Note that, though controversy over Photius still waxes hot, it is now universally agreed that Pope John VIII approved the rehabilitation of Photius in 879-80. Αctually both Dvornik (Byzantion, 8 [1933], 425-74) and Grumel (Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques, 12 [1933], 432-57) discovered what actually happened in 879-80 simultaneously and independently; and Grumel, though still critical of Photius, has not changed his mind about this episode: "La liquidation de la querelle photienne," ΕΟ, 33 (1934), 257-88. Other experts agree: Ambrosius Esser, "Photius, Patriarch von Konstantinopel," ΕΟ, 9 (1960), 26-46; Emile Amann, L'époque carolingienne (cited in note 132 above), 465-501; idem, "Photius," DTC, 12, 2 (1935), 1593-95 and passim.

146. - Ιn addition to his Ρhotian schism, index, s.v.. Boris-Michael and Bulgaria, see, on the evangelisation of the Slavs, F. .Dvornik, Les légendes de Constantin et de Méthode (cited in note 128 above): translation of the lives of Constantine and Methodius with commentary, 228 ff., and passim; idem, Les Slaves, Byzance et Rome au ΙΧe siècle (Paris, 1926); see also Franz Grivec, Κonstantin und Method, Lehrer der Slaven (Weisbaden, 1960); idem, "Konstantin-Cyrills Freundschaft mit Photios," Südost-Forschungen, 17 (1958), 46-51: friends not allies; Beck, Kirche, 529 f., gives bibliography; Josef Bujnoch, Zwischen Rom und Byzanz: Leben und Wirken der Slawenapostel Kyrillos und Methodius (Graz-Vienna, 1958): German translation of the Vitae translated by Dvornik. G. Τ. Dennis, "The 'Anti-Greek' Character of the Responsa ad Bulgaros of Nicholas Ι?" OrChrP, 24 (1958), 165-74: the Responsa were not polemical in intent although they involved criticism of some Greek practices; Roko Rogošić, "De incarceratione et migrationibus Methodii, Slavorum praeceptoris et archiepiscopi;" Slavia, 25 (1956), 262-82; Richard Ε. Sullivan, "The papacy and missionary activity in the early Middle Ages," MedSt, 17 (1955), 46-106: 91-102 on Bulgaria; Ιvan Dujcev, "Die 'Responsa Νicolai Ι Papae ad consulta Bulgarorum' als Quelle für die bulgarische Geschichte," in Festschrift zur Feier des zweihundertjährigen Bestandes des Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchivs, ed. Leo Santifaller (Vienna, 1949), 349-62; Peter von Vaczy, "Die Anfänge der päpstlichen Politik bei den Slaven," Archives Europae Centro-Orientalis, 8 (1942), 404; D. Detschew, Responsa Nicolai I Papae ad consulta Bulgarorum (anno 866) (Sofia, 1939); Amann, L'époque carolingienne, 451-63, 476 ff.

147. - Nicholas, Εp. 88, MGH Epist., 6, Karolini aevi, 4, 459.5-460.6 (on the language), 474.6 ff. (on "Old" Rome, urbs inveterata, in Nicholas's weird translation). Steven Runciman, "Byzantine linguists," in Prosphora eis Stilpona Ρ. Kyriakiden (Hellenika, Parartema 4 [Thessalonike, 1953]), 598, suggests that Nicholas misunderstood Michael, who was not attacking the Latin language as such but only the barbarisms which had crept into the style of the papal chancery. Οn Nicholas Ι, see F Α. Norwood, "The political pretensions of Pope Nicholas Ι," ChHist, 15 (1946), 271-85; Johannes Haller, Νikolaus I und Pseudoisidor (Stuttgart, 1936); Emile Amann, L'epoque carolingienne, 367 ff., 465-83; idem, DTC, 11, 1 (1931), 506-26; Ε. Perels, Papst Nikolaus I und Anastasius Bibliothecarius (Berlin, 1920); Jules Roy, "Principes du Pape Nicolas 1er et les rapports des deux puissances," in Etudes d'histoire du moyen âge dédiés à Gabriel Morod (Paris, 1896), 95-105.

148. - Dvornik, Photian schism, 175 ff., 179 ff., 183-86, 192 f., 195-97, 383 ff.; idem, "The Patriarch Photius in the light of recent research" (cited in note 140 above), 35-39, holds that the extant Acts of the Council of 879-80 including the record of the sixth and seventh sessions, which annulled the council of 869-70 and forbade changes in the Creed, are authentic, although somewhat revised by a pro-Photian hand, which, for example, deleted Pope John VIII's demand that Photius apologize for his offenses against Rome before being restored to favour The following agree: Martin Jugie, Le schisme byzantin, 126-30; idem, "Schisme," DTC, 14, 2 (1939), 1340 ff.; idem, "Les Actes du synode photien de Sainte-Sophie (879-880)," ΕΟ, 37 (1938), 89-99 (Jugie's suggestion that John VIll saw only a brief Latin summary of the Acts as we know them is rejected by Dvornik); Emile Amann as cited in note 145 above; Anton Michel, "Von Photios zu Kerullarios," RQ, 41 (1933), 125-62; idem, ΒZ, 38 (1938), 452-59. The record of the sixth and seventh sessions of the council in the extant Acts is condemned as a forgery by Ρ Stephanou, Berichte zum ΧI. Int. Byz.-Kongress (cited in note 140 above), Korreferate, ΙΙΙ, 2, pp. 20 ff.; V Grumel, "Le décret du synode photien de 879-880 sur le symbole de foi;" ΕΟ, 37 (1938), 357-72; idem, "Le 'Filioque' au concile photien de 879-880 et le témoignage de Michel d'Anchialos," ΕΟ, 29 (1930), 257-64; V. Laurent, "Les Actes du synode photien et Georges le Metochite," ΕΟ, 37 (1938), 100-106; idem, "Le cas de Photius dans l'apologétique du patriarche Jean ΧΙ Beccos (1275-82), au lendemain du deuxième concile de Lyon,' ΕΟ, 29 (1930), 396-415; cf. Georg Hofmann, "Ιvo von Chartres über Photios," OrChrP, 14 (1948), 105-37; 1090-1117, knew Acts of 879-80, which condemned the Council of 869-70. See following note. Grumel, "Les lettres de Jean VIII pour le rétablissement de Photius," ΕΟ, 39 (1940-42), 138-56, says, as Dvornik does, that Pope John VIII realized that the Constantinopolitan recession of his letters omitted certain conditions, which he had stressed. But for the sake of harmony he refrained from protesting. Ιn his paper "Origine de la controverse sur l'addition du Filioque au Symbole," Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques, 28 (1939), 369-85, and in his other works, Μ. Jugie maintains that Photius's strictures on the Latin doctrine of the double procession of the Holy Spirit had reference only to the theology of this question, not to an actual addition of Filioque to the Creed. Grumel rightly insists that Photius's attack was not just theological but was directed against those Latins who used Filioque in the Creed (although this did not become the official practice of Rome until 1014); "Photius et l'addition du Filioque au symbole de Nicée-Constantinople," REB, 5 (1947), 218-34.

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