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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

The Heraclian epoch (610-717)

Religious Policy of the dynasty 

“Type of Faith” of Constans II 


The Original Greek New Testament

After the death of Heraclius, in the reign of Constans II, religious policy developed as follows. The Emperor still remained an adherent of Monotheletism in spite of the fact that the movement had lost its political importance and stood in the way of friendly relations with the papal throne. After the loss of Egypt, conquered by the Arabs in the forties, the Emperor made a series of attempts at reconciliation with the pope, offering to make several changes in the doctrines of the Monothelete teaching. With this aim in view, Constans II issued in the year 648 the Typus (τύπος), or Type of Faith, which forbade all Orthodox subjects being in immaculate Christian faith and belonging to the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to contend and to quarrel with one another over one will or one operation (energy), or two operations (energies) and two wills. Besides prohibiting disputes, the Type ordered the removal of the written discussions on this question, which meant the Ecthesis of Heraclius, posted in the narthex of St. Sophia. But this measure of Constans II did not effect the desired religious peace. In the presence of representatives of the Greek clergy, at the Lateran Synod, Pope Martin condemned the most impious Ecthesis (impiissima Ecthesis), and the vicious Typus (scelerosus Typus), and declared all those whose names were connected with the composition of the two decrees guilty of heresy. The outstanding theologian of the seventh century, Maximus Confessor, resolutely opposed the Type as well as the Monothelete teaching in general. Great dissatisfaction with the Emperor's religious policy was also growing stronger in the eastern church.

Angered by the pope's action at the Lateran Synod, Constans II ordered the exarch of Ravenna to arrest Martin and send him to Constantinople. The exarch carried out these orders, and Martin was convicted at Constantinople of an attempt to initiate an uprising against the Emperor in the western provinces. He was subjected to terrible humiliations and confined to prison. Somewhat later he was sent to the distant city of Cherson, on the southern coast of the Crimea, the usual place of exile for the disgraced in the Byzantine period. He died shortly after his arrival to the city. In his letters from Cherson the pope complained of bad living conditions and asked his friends to send him food, particularly bread, which is talked of, but has never been seen. Unfortunately Martin's letters give little interesting data concerning the cultural and economic conditions of Cherson in the seventh century.

The Emperor and the patriarch of Constantinople continued negotiations with the successors of Martin on the papal throne, and finally made peace with the second successor, Vitalian. The schism in the churches ceased. This religious reconciliation with Rome was politically important for the Byzantine Empire because it strengthened the position of the Emperor in Italy.

The famous opponent of Monotheletism, Maximus Confessor, was arrested by the Italian exarch and transferred to Constantinople, where he was convicted by a jury and cruelly mutilated. Maximus died as a martyr in distant exile

Maximus Confessor 

A History of the Byzantine Empire - Table of Contents

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