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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

The Macedonian epoch (867-1081)

Social and political developments. Church affairs 


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At the Roman councils, and later in Constantinople in the year 869, in the presence of papal legates, Photius was deposed and anathematized with his partisans. The Constantinopolitan council of 869 was recognized as an ecumenical council by the western church and is still considered as such.

In its own church life, then, the Empire yielded to the pope in all points. Quite different was the Emperor's attitude toward the problem of religious affairs in Bulgaria, where the Latin clergy had triumphed at the end of the reign of Michael III. In spite of the pope's displeasure and the opposition of the papal legates, Basil I succeeded in achieving the removal of Latin priests from Bulgaria, and Bulgarian King Boris again formed a union with the eastern church. This event exerted much influence upon the later historical fate of the Bulgarian people.

During his confinement, in which he was subjected to great privations, the deposed and excommunicated Photius continued to enjoy the admiration of his followers, who remained true to him throughout Ignatius' patriarchate. Basil himself soon recognized that his attitude toward Photius had been wrong, and he tried to correct it. He began by recalling Photius from confinement and bringing him to the Byzantine court, where he was entrusted with the education of the Emperor's children. Later, when Ignatius died at a very advanced age, Basil offered Photius the patriarchal throne. This reinstatement of Photius marked the beginning of a new policy toward the pope.

In the year 879 a council was convoked in Constantinople. In the number of participating hierarchs and in the general magnificence of the setting it surpassed even some of the ecumenical councils. According to one historian, this council was, on the whole, a truly majestic event, such as had not been seen since the time of the Council of Chalcedon. The legates of Pope John VIII also came to this council, and not only were they forced to consent to the absolution of Photius and the restoration of his communion with the Roman church, but they also had to listen without any contradiction to the reading of the Nicaeo-Constantinopolitan Creed, which did not include the filioque so widely used in the West.

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