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elevation to God's care for the Church. He goes on to say that he knows of no man really worthy of the Patriarchate, and he names three conditions which a suitable candidate should fulfil he should be able, with perfect heart, to seek out the judgments of God; he should have been raised by gradual steps from the lowest to higher ecclesiastical ranks; he should be experienced in the various phases of spiritual life and so able to help others. This was manifestly aimed at excluding the possible election of a layman. But Theodore goes further and actually suggests the election of an abbot or an anchoret,1 without mentioning a bishop. We cannot mistake the tendency of this epistle. It is probable that Plato proposed his nephew for the vacant dignity.2 But Theodore's bigotry and extreme views of ecclesiastical independence rendered his appointment by an Emperor like Nicephorus absolutely out of the question.
Respect for Church tradition, with perhaps a touch of jealousy, made Theodore and his party indignant at the designation of Nicephorus, a layman, as Patriarch. They agitated against him, and their opposition seemed to the Emperor an intolerable insubordination to his own authority. Nor did their attitude meet with much sympathy outside their own immediate circle. A contemporary monk, who was no friend of the Emperor, dryly says that they tried to create a schism. The Emperor was fain to banish the abbot and his uncle, and break up the monastery; but it was represented to him that the elevation of the new Patriarch would be considered inauspicious if it were attended by the dissolution of such a famous cloister in which there were about seven hundred brethren.5 He was content to keep the two leaders in prison for twenty-four days, probably till after Nicephorus had been enthroned. The ceremony was solemnised on Easter
day (April 12) in the presence of the two Augusti,1 and the Studites did not persist in their protest.2
The Emperor Nicephorus now resolved to make an assertion of Imperial absolutism, in the sense that the Emperor was superior to canonical laws in the same way that he was superior to secular laws. His assertion of this principle was the more impressive, as it concerned a question which did not involve his own interests or actions.
It will be remembered that Tarasius had given his sanction to the divorce of Constantine VI. from his first wife and to his marriage with Theodote (Sept. A.D. 795). After the fall of Constantine, Tarasius had been persuaded by Irene to declare that both the divorce and the second marriage were illegal, and Joseph, who had performed the marriage ceremony, was degraded from the priesthood and placed under the ban of excommunication. This ban had not been removed, and the circumstance furnished Nicephorus with a pretext for reopening a question which involved an important constitutional principle. It would have been inconvenient to ask Tarasius to broach again a matter on which his own conduct had been conspicuously inconsistent and opportunist; but soon after the succession of the new Patriarch, Nicephorus proceeded to procure a definite affirmation of the superiority of the Emperor to canonical laws. At his wish a synod was summoned to decide whether Joseph should be received again into communion and reinstated in the sacerdotal office. The assembly voted for his rehabilitation, and declared the marriage of Constantine and Theodote valid.1
In this assembly of bishops and monks one dissentient voice was raised, that of Theodore the abbot of Studion. He and his uncle Plato had suffered under Constantine VI. the penalty of banishment from their monastery of Sakkudion, on account of their refusal to communicate with Joseph, who had transgressed the laws of the Church by uniting Constantine
1 Theoph. ib. It is interesting to observe the tendency of the writer here. He approved of the election of Nicephorus, but could not bear to attribute a good act to the Emperor, and therefore adds casually πpòs dè καὶ τῶν βασιλέων, as though the presence of Nicephorus and Stauracius were something unimportant or hardly
to be expected.
Cp. Theodore, Epp. i. 25, p. 989; 30, p. 1008.
3 Bury, Later Roman Empire, ii. 487.
4 Mansi, xiv. 14. Hefele (iii. 397) speaks inadvertently of the affair of the Abt Johannes. Cp. Theodore,
Epp. i. 33, p. 101.
with Theodote. It has been thought that the firm attitude which they then assumed may have been in some measure due to the fact that Theodote was nearly related to them; that they may have determined to place themselves beyond all suspicion of condoning an offence against the canons in which the interests of a kinswoman were involved.1 Now, when the question was revived, they persisted in their attitude, though they resorted to no denunciations. Theodore wrote a respectful letter to the Patriarch, urging him to exclude Joseph from sacerdotal ministrations, and threatening that otherwise a schism would be the consequence.2 The Patriarch did not deign to reply to the abbot, and for two years the matter lay in abeyance, the Studites saying little, but declining to communicate with the Patriarch.3
The scandal of this schism became more public when Joseph, a brother of Theodore, became archbishop of Thessalonica,1 He was asked by the Logothete of the Course, why he would not communicate with the Patriarch and the Emperor. On his alleging that he had nothing against them personally, but only against the priest who had celebrated the adulterous marriage, the Logothete declared, "Our pious Emperors have no need of you at Thessalonica or anywhere else." This occurrence (A.D. 808) roused to activity Theodore's facile pen. But his appeals to court-dignitaries or to ecclesiastics outside his own community seem to have produced little effect." He failed to stir up public opinion
against the recent synod, and in their schism the Studites were isolated.1 But the attitude of this important monastery could no longer be ignored.
The mere question of the rehabilitation of a priest was, of course, a very minor matter. Nor was the legitimacy of Constantine's second marriage the question which really interested the Emperor. The question at issue was whether Emperors had power to override laws established by the Church, and whether Patriarchs and bishops might dispense from ecclesiastical canons. Theodore firmly maintained that "the laws of God bind all men," and the circumstance that Constantine wore the purple made no difference.2 The significance of Theodore's position is that in contending for the validity of canonical law as independent of the State and the Emperor, he was vindicating the independence of the Church. Although the Studites stood virtually alone-for if any sympathised with them they were afraid to express their opinions—the persistent opposition of such a large and influential institution could not be allowed to continue. A mixed synod of ecclesiastics and Imperial officials met in January A.D. 809, the legality of the marriage of Theodote was reaffirmed, and it was laid down that Emperors were above ecclesiastical laws and that bishops had the power of dispensing from canons.3 Moreover, sentence was passed on the aged Plato, the abbot Theodore, and his brother Joseph, who had been dragged before the assembly, and they were banished to the Prince's Islands, where they were placed in separate retreats.4 Then Nicephorus proceeded to deal with
whom Theodore complains (i. 26, addressed to the abbot Simeon, a different person) that he was ȧμØотEρóγλωσσος.
1 If there were secret sympathisers, they had not the courage of their opinion (see i. 31, p. 1009 VUKTEρivol θεοσεβεῖς, afraid to come out into the light).
2 Ib. i. 22. At this time Theodore wrote (i. 28) to an old friend, Basil of St. Saba, who was then at Rome, and had renounced communion with him; and we learn that Pope Leo had expressed indifference as to the "sins' of Joseph (p. 1001).
3 The date is given by Theophanes (484) whose words, however, admit
the possible interpretation that the
4 Plato in the islet Oxeia (Theodore, Epitaph in Plat. c. 39, p. 841, where
the seven hundred monks of Studion. He summoned them to his presence in the palace of Eleutherios, where he received them with impressive ceremonial. When he found it impossible to intimidate or cajole them into disloyalty to their abbot or submission to their sovran, he said: "Whoever will obey the Emperor and agree with the Patriarch and the clergy, let him stand on the right; let the disobedient move to the left, that we may see who consent and who are stubborn." But this device did not succeed, and they were all confined in various monasteries in the neighbourhood of the city. Soon afterwards we hear that they were scattered far and wide throughout the Empire.2
During his exile, Theodore maintained an active correspondence with the members of his dispersed flock, and in order to protect his communications against the curiosity of official supervision he used the twenty-four letters of the alphabet to designate the principal members of the Studite fraternity. In this cipher, for example, alpha represented Plato, beta Joseph, omega Theodore himself.3 Confident in the justice of his cause, he invoked the intervention of the Roman See, and urged the Pope to undo the work of the adulterous synods by a General Council. Leo wrote a paternal and consolatory letter, but he expressed no opinion on the merits of the question. We may take it as certain that he had other information derived from adherents of the Patriarch, who were active in influencing opinion at Rome, and that he considered Theodore's action ill-advised. In any case, he declined to commit himself.4
The resolute protest of the Studites aroused, as we have seen, little enthusiasm, though it can hardly be doubted that many ecclesiastics did not approve of the Acts of the recent synod. But it was felt that the Patriarch had, in the circumstances, acted prudently and with a sage economy. In later times enthusiastic admirers of Theodore were ready to
read 'Oğeîa), Theodore in Chalkitês, now Halki (id., Epigramm. 98-104, p. 1804).
1 Michael, Vit. Theod. Stud. 269; cp. Anon. Vit. Theod. Stud. 160.
2 Theodore, Epp. i. 48, pp. 1072-73. Some were exiled at Cherson, others in the island of Lipari. 3 Ib. i. 41.
4 The first letter that Theodore wrote to Leo he destroyed himself (see ib. i. 34, p. 1028). The second is extant (i. 33). We learn the drift of the Pope's reply from i. 34, written in the joint names of Plato and Theodore. See also their letter to Basil of Saba, i. 35. For the activity of the other side at Rome, see i. 28.