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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 last session of the council the legates exclaimed, If any man refuse to recognize Photius as the Holy Patriarch and decline to be in communion with him, his lot shall be with Judas, and he shall not be included among the Christians! The Catholic historian of Photius wrote that praises to Photius were the opening statements of the council, and its sessions were closed also with the glorification of the patriarch. This council also argued that the pope was a patriarch like all other patriarchs, that he possessed no authority over the entire church, and hence that it was not necessary for the patriarch of Constantinople to receive the confirmation of the Roman pontiff.

Greatly angered, the pope sent a legate to Constantinople to insist upon the annulment of any measure passed at the council which was disagreeable to the pope. The legate was also to obtain certain concessions regarding the Bulgarian church. Basil and Photius refused to yield in any of these points and even went so far as to arrest the legate. It was formerly believed that when news of this act of defiance reached John VIII he anathematized Photius in a solemn ceremony in the Church of St. Peter in the presence of a large number of his flock, holding the Gospel in his hands. This was the so-called second schism of Photius. Recent investigations by Amann, Dvornik, and Grumel, however, have shown that the second schism of Photius never existed, and that neither John VIII or any of his successors anathematized Photius. Relations between the Empire and Rome did not cease completely, however, but they became casual and indefinite. Photius did not remain in the patriarchal chair until the end of his life, for he was forced to leave it in 886, when his pupil, Leo VI, succeeded Basil I. Five years later Photius died. Throughout his long lifetime he played a very significant part in the religious as well as in the intellectual life of the Byzantine Empire.

The reign of Basil I was marked also by a number of attempts to spread Christianity among pagan and heterodox peoples. Probably in his time the Empire endeavored to convert the Russians to Christianity, but very little light has been thrown on this subject. A source asserts that Basil persuaded the Russians to take part in salutary baptism and accept the archbishop ordained by Ignatius. As yet it is difficult to determine which Russians the writer of this source had in mind. The conversion of the greater part of the Slavonic tribes settled in the Peloponnesus took place in the time of Basil I; the pagan Slavs remained in the mountains of Taygetus. It is also known that Basil forced the Jews of the Empire to accept Christianity.

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