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The quarrel between Rome and Constantinople was soon augmented by the contest between the two sees for the control of the infant church of Bulgaria,1 and Photius judged that the time was ripe for a decisive blow. He held a local synod for the condemnation of various heresies which Latin clergy had criminally introduced into Bulgaria.2 These servants of Antichrist, worthy of a thousand deaths," permitted the use of milk and cheese in the Lenten fast; they sowed the seed of the Manichaean doctrine by their aversion to priests who are legally married; they had the audacity to pour anew the chrism of confirmation on persons who had already been anointed by priests, as if a priest were not as competent to confirm as to baptize. But above all they were guilty of teaching the blasphemous and atheistic doctrine that the Holy Ghost proceeds not only from the Father, but also from the Son.
The eloquent Patriarch can hardly find words adequate to characterize the enormity of these false doctrines, in the encyclical letter which he addressed to the three Eastern Patriarchs, inviting them to attend a general council at Constantinople, for the purpose of rooting out such abominable errors. Other questions too, Photius intimated, would come before the council. For he had received from Italy an official communication full of grave complaints of the tyranny exercised by the Roman bishop in the west.
The document to which Photius refers seems to have emanated from the archbishops of Köln and Trier, who were at this time leading an anti-papal movement. The occasion of this division in the western Church was the love of king Lothar II. of Lothringia for his mistress Waldrade.* To marry her he had repudiated his queen, and his action was approved by a synod at Metz, guided by the influence of the two archbishops. But the Pope embraced the cause of the queen, and in a synod in the Lateran (October 863), annulled
phemiis, tota iniuriis plena." One of Michael's demands was that the Pope should hand over to him the Ignatians who were at Rome.
1 See Chap. XII.
2 Photius, Ep. 4, § 27, p. 176. Hergenrother assigns the synod to Lent, 867 (i. 648).
3 Ep. 4.
4 For this affair and its consequences see Hergenröther, i. 540 sqq.; Hefele, iv. 240 sqq. The documents will be found in Mansi, xv. 611 sqq., 645 sqq., to which must be added the Vita Nicolai, and the chronicles of Regino and Hincmar (Ann. Bert.).
the acts of Metz, and deposed the archbishops of Köln and Trier. These prelates received at first support from the Emperor Lewis II., but that vacillating monarch soon made peace with the Pope, and the archbishops presumed to organize a general movement of metropolitan bishops against the claims of the Roman see. They distributed to the bishops of the west a circular Protest, denouncing the tyranny, arrogance, and cunning of Nicholas, who would "make himself the Emperor of the whole world." They sent a copy to the Patriarch of Constantinople, imploring him to come to their help and deliverance.2
This movement in the western church was well calculated to confirm Photius and the Imperial government in the justice of their own cause, and it led the Patriarch to a far-reaching scheme which it required some time to mature. It is certain that during the years A.D. 865-867, there were secret negotiations between Constantinople and the Emperor Lewis. It is improbable that any formal embassies were interchanged. But by unofficial means-perhaps by communications between Photius and the Empress Engelberta-an understanding was reached that if the Pope were excommunicated by the eastern Patriarchs, Lewis might be induced to drive him from Rome as a heretical usurper, and that the court of Constantinople would officially recognize the Imperial dignity and title of the western Emperor.3
Constantinople carried out her portion of the programme. The Council met in A.D. 867 (perhaps the late summer), and the Emperor Michael presided.5 The Pope was condemned and anathema pronounced against him for the heretical doctrines and practices which were admitted by the Roman Church, and for his illegitimate interference in the affairs of the Church of Constantinople.
The acts of the Synod were
Lewis and his wife.
4 The date is inferred from the fact that Zacharias, bishop of Chalcedon, who was deputed to carry the acts of the Council to Italy, was still on his journey in September, after Michael's death, and was recalled (Vita Ign. 257), Hergenrother, i. 349.
5 And probably Basil with him, as Hergenrother ib. admits. Metrophanes, op. cit. 417.
afterwards burned,' and we know of it only from the brief notices of the enemies of Photius. They insinuate that the signature of Michael had been appended when he was drunk; that the signature of his colleague Basil, had been forged; that the subscriptions of almost all those who were present, numbering about a thousand, were fabricated.2 These allegations are highly improbable, and the writers themselves are inconsistent in what they allege. It is obvious that if the Emperors had disapproved of the purpose of the Council, the Council could never have met ; and it is equally clear that if the overwhelming majority of the Council, including the Emperors, had disapproved of the decrees, the decrees could not have been passed. But there seems to have been some chicanery. At the Eighth Ecumenical Council, the metropolitan bishops whose signatures appeared, were asked whether they had subscribed, and they said, "God forbid, we did not subscribe." 3 Are we to suppose that they consented to the acts and afterwards refused to append their names?
The scandal about the legates of the Eastern Patriarchs is hardly less obscure. It is stated that Photius picked up in the streets three evil men whom he foisted upon the synod as the representatives of the Patriarchs. They pretended to be Peter, Basil, and Leontios. But the true Peter, Basil, and Leontios appeared at the Eighth Ecumenical Council, where they asserted that they had not been named as legates by the Patriarchs, that they knew nothing about the Synod, had not attended it, and had not signed its acts.5 It is impossible to
By the explicit and emphatic instructions of Pope Hadrian.
2 Vita Hadriani II. 811, and Anastasius, Praef. Hergenrother, i. 652, admits that there is great exaggeration in these Latin sources. In the Vita Hadr., it is said that the signatures were fabricated by hired persons, who used fine and coarse pens to vary the handwriting. In regard to the signature of Basil, the Pope was officially informed that it was spurious (yevdas eyypapĥvai): cap. 4 of his Roman Synod, in Act vii. of the Eighth Council, Mansi, xvi. 380.
* Act viii. οἱ ὑπογεγραμμένοι ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ ἐκείνῳ μητροπολῖται (which must mean, exclusive of the Photians). Anastasius says (loc. cit.), that only
twenty-one really signed, but this can hardly be true, and the same writer gives the total number of signatures as "about 1000" which is absurd. No Ecumenical Council had nearly so many members, and why (as Lebedev asks) should Photius have taken the trouble to forge so many?
4 See the 6th Canon of the Eighth Council, Mansi, xvi. 401 Tоvηρoús τινας ἄνδρας ἀπὸ τῶν λεωφόρων ἀγυιῶν.
5 See their examination by the Council, Act viii. pp. 384 sqq., also of Leontios, George, and Sergius, Act ix. p. 397. Peter, etc. who are brought before the Council are described as τοὺς ψευδοτοποτηρητὰς οὓς ὁ Φώτιος προσελάβετο κατὰ τοῦ . . Νικολάου. But if we are to make any sense of
discover the truth, nor has it much interest except for ecclesiastical historians, who, if they are members of the Latin Church, will readily credit Photius with a wholesale and barefaced scheme of deception, and if they belong to the Greek communion, may be prepared to maintain that at the Eighth Ecumenical Council mendacity was the order of the day.1 In either case, those who stand outside the Churches may find some entertainment in an edifying ecclesiastical scandal.
That the Emperors were acting in concert with Photius is, if there could be any doubt, definitely proved by the fact that Lewis was solemnly acclaimed as Basileus and Engelberta as Augusta. No Council, no Patriarch, could have dared to do what, done without the Imperial consent, or rather command, would have been an overt act of treason. The Patriarch sent a copy of the Acts of the Council to Engelberta, with a letter in which, comparing her to Pulcheria, he urged her to persuade her husband to drive from Rome a bishop who had been deposed by an Ecumenical Council.2
The schism between Rome and Constantinople was now complete for the moment. The Pope had anathematized the Patriarch, and the Patriarch had hurled back his anathema at the Pope. But this rent in the veil of Christendom was thinly patched up in a few months, and the designs of Photius for the ruin of his antagonist came to nought. On the death of Michael, the situation was immediately reversed. When Basil gained the sovran power, one of his first acts was to depose Photius and restore Ignatius. It is probable that his feelings towards Photius, the friend and relative of Bardas, were not over friendly, but his action was doubtless determined not by personal or religious considerations, but by reasons of state. We cannot say whether he was already
the proceedings, this cannot be taken literally. They cannot (unless they lied) have been the men whom Photius suborned; they must be the men whom those men impersonated. This question is not elucidated by modern ecclesiastical historians. Cp. Hergenröther, ii. 110 sqq., 118 sq.; Hefele, iv. 394-395.
1 Lebedev, op. cit. 102-103, rejects the evidence of Anastasius, Vita Hadr.,
Vita Ign., and Metrophanes against
2 The messengers were recalled before they reached Italy, see above, p. 201, n. 4.
forming projects which rendered the alienation from Rome undesirable; but his principal and immediate purpose was assuredly to restore ecclesiastical peace and tranquillity in his own realm, and to inaugurate his reign by an act of piety and orthodoxy which would go far in the eyes of the inhabitants of Constantinople to atone for the questionable methods by which he had won the autocratic power.
Nothing proves more convincingly than Basil's prompt reversal of his predecessor's ecclesiastical policy, that this policy was generally unpopular. Unless he had been sure that the restitution of Ignatius would be welcomed by an important section of his subjects at Constantinople, it is incredible, in view of the circumstances of his accession, that it would have been his first important act. Photius had his band of devoted followers, but they seem to have been a small minority; and there are other indications that public opinion was not in his favour. The severe measures to which the government had resorted against Ignatius and his supporters would hardly have been adopted if the weight of public opinion had leaned decisively on the side of Photius. There was,
however, some embarrassment for Basil, who only a few months before had co-operated in the council which excommunicated the Pope, and there was embarrassment for many others who shared the responsibility, in turning about and repudiating their acts. The natural instinct was to throw all the blame upon Photius; Basil's signature was officially declared to be spurious; and most of those, who had taken part willingly or unwillingly in the condemnation of the Pope, were eager to repudiate their consent to that audacious transaction.
The proceedings of the Eighth Council, which procured a temporary triumph for Rome, the second patriarchate of Photius, and his second dethronement, lie outside the limits of this volume. He died in exile,1 almost a centenarian. Immediately after his death he was recognized as a Father of the Church, and anathema was pronounced on all that Councils or Popes had uttered against him. The rift between
1 A.D. 897. See Papadopulos
Kerameus ὁ πατρ. Φώτιος, 647 sqq. In the Synax. ecc. Cpl. p. 448 (date: middle of tenth century, see Bieliaev,
in Viz. Vrem. 3, 437), Feb. 6 is distinguished by the μνήμη τοῦ ἐν ἁγίοις πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ ἀρχιεπ. Κπόλεως Φωτίου.