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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

Justinian the Great and his successors (518-610)

Religious problems and the Fifth Ecumenical Council   -Cf. Acts of the Fifth Ecumenical Council


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Most important of all, of course, was Justinian's attitude toward the Monophysites. First of all, his relations with them were of great political importance and involved the extremely significant problem of the eastern provinces, Egypt, Syria, and Palestine. In the second place, the Monophysites were supported by Justinians wife, Theodora, who had a powerful influence over him. One contemporary Monophysitic writer (John of Ephesus) called her a Christ-loving woman filled with zeal and the most Christian empress, sent by God in difficult times to protect the persecuted.

Following her advice, Justinian attempted at the beginning of his reign to establish peaceful relations with the Monophysites. He permitted the bishops who had been exiled during the reign of Justin and at the beginning of his own reign to return home. He invited many Monophysites to the capital to a conciliatory religious conference, at which, according to an eyewitness, he appealed to them to discuss all doubtful questions with their antagonists with all mildness and patience as behooves orthodox and saintly people. He gave quarters in one of the palaces in the capital to five hundred Monophysitic monks; they were likened to a great and marvelous desert of solitaries. In 535 Severus, the head and true legislator of Monophysitism, arrived in Constantinople and remained there a year. The capital of the Empire, at the beginning of the year 535, was assuming somewhat the aspect which it had presented under the reign of Anastasius. The see of Constantinople was entrusted to the bishop of Trapezus (Trebizond), Anthimus, famous for his conciliatory policy towards the Monophysites. The Monophysites seemed triumphant.

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