image with the sign of Myriobiblos

Main Page | Library | Homage | Seminars | Book Reviews





Internet Dept.



Previous Page
Milton V. Anastos

Constantinople and Rome

A Survey of the Relations between the Byzantine and the Roman Churches.

M. Anastos, Aspects of the Mind of Byzantium (Political Theory, Theology, and Ecclesiastical Relations with the See of Rome), Ashgate Publications, Variorum Collected Studies Series, 2001. ISBN: 0 86078 840 7.

19. The Normans and the schism of 1054

After the reestablishment of harmony in 923, there were no serious clashes between the two Churches until the middle of the eleventh century, when Byzantine and Latin ecclesiastical interests collided in southern Italy, where many churches and communities of the Greek rite were to be found, especially in lands that still formed a part of the Byzantine Empire. For, even after the loss of the Exarchate of Ravenna in 751, the sovereignty of Byzantium was still recognized to some degree in Campania (in Gaeta, Naples, and, above all, in Amalfi), in the regions to the south known as Calabria and Apulia, portions of which remained under direct Byzantine rule until the loss of Βari and Brindisi on the southern Adriatic to the Νornans in 1071.(180) The churches in Calabria (a geographical name whose limits cannot be defined precisely and which may have comprised Apulia), it will be remembered, had been under the jurisdiction of the patriarch of Constantinople since 732-33.

Just before the middle of the eleventh century, ca. 1040, a new threat to the Byzantine holdings in Italy appeared, when the Normans, in their second invasion of Italy, started to press southward. The invaders not only brought tenor to the countryside, but also encroached upon papal lands and property.Hence, when the Byzantine government appealed to Rome for assistance against the Normans, the popes were at first tempted to respond favourably, and Leo ΙΧ (1049-54) joined Byzantium in an alliance against the Normans. But this attempt at joint military action ended in a double disaster, when the Byzantine forces were routed in February 1053, and Pope Leo himself was captured after the defeat of his troops at the battle of Civitate in June of the same year.

For a time the papal attitude towards the Normans was affected by the fact that they were often unruly and troublesome, as they continued to be even in a later generation when, for example, Robert Guiscard's men, in coming to the aid of Pope Gregory VII (1073-85), set fire to a great part of the city of Rome and destroyed many churches, including, apparently, that of San Clemente (1084). Nevertheless they were Roman in ecclesiastical affiliation, especially after the Council of Malfi (1059), and atoned for many of their misdeeds by turning over Greek churches in their sphere of influence to the Roman observance.

Furthermore, the popes were encouraged to harden their attitude towards Constantinople and to stress the omnipotence of the Roman see by the reformers of the eleventh century, who sought a strong papal government to help them in their struggle for a celibate clergy and for the elimination of simony (the sale of ecclesiastical offices).(181)

Still another factor in the situation which operated to the disadvantage of the Byzantine Church was the predilection for the addition of Filioque(182) to the Creed on the part of the German emperors, who were in a position to exert great pressure upon Rome. This word was introduced into the Creed by Reccared in Toledo in 589. Charlemagne also favoured it, but until 1014 the popes, though declaring it to be unobjectionable theologically, agreed with the Byzantines in excluding it from the Creed. In that year, however, at the coronation of Henry II, the incorporation of this term into the Creed finally won papa1 sanction.

In view of the long history of tension and strife, which we have briefly surveyed,
it was perhaps inevitable that the ever-recurring pattern of disagreement, breach, and reconciliation which we have been examining would eventually come to an end, and give way to a final and irreconcilable divorce. All agree that the two Churches have separated in this way, but there is some disagreement over the date on which the separation took place. According to the criterion, to which appeal is often made, of the presence of the names of the popes in the diptychs of the Church of Constantinople, the final split took place shortly after 1009, the last year in which the name of a Roman Pope, in this instance John XVIII (1003-1009),(183) was so recorded in Constantinople. But this standard of deciding the question is far from satisfactory, as our knowledge of the contents of the Byzantine diptychs is haphazard, and often depends upon inferences, which may or may not be justified.

The traditional date usually given in the handbooks and manuals is July 16, 1054,(184) when Cardinal Humbert and two other papal legates deposited on the altar of the Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople a bull excommunicating
the Byzantine Patriarch, Michael Cerularius (1043-59), his chief co-adjustors, and all their followers. The papal representatives had been sent to Constantinople by Pope Leo ΙΧ (1049-54) to negotiate an alliance between Byzantium and Rome, and to eliminate the friction that had arisen between them. Both protagonists, Cerularius and Humbert, were truculent and uncompromising, and were more interested in gaining their own objectives than in working out an agreement. Humbert was the leader of those who had resolved to capture the Greek churches in southern Italy for the papacy. Cerularius was equally determined that Humbert's scheme should fail, and that the Roman Pope should deal with him as an equal, not as a subordinate.

In 1053, Cerularius decided to make an attack upon Rome, and persuaded Bishop Leo of Ochrida in Bulgaria to denounce the Latins for using azyma (unleavened bread) in the Eucharist, fasting on Saturday, and eating the meat of animals which had been strangled.(185) As it turned out, Leo's animadversions on these Latin practices were particularly ill-timed, and arrived in Italy just after the two above-mentioned defeats suffered by the Byzantine forces and their allies. Probably for this reason, Cerularius was induced to adopt a more conciliatory line, and wrote to the Pope in a respectful vein to enlist his aid against the Normans. The Emperor Constantine ΙΧ made a similar appeal.(186)

But these friendly, or rather less bellicose, overtures accomplished little, and new difficulties arose when the three papal legates presented themselves at the patriarchate. There they gave offence to Cerularius by refusing him not only the customary obeisance (proskynesis) but even, he says, as much as a respectful bow, and they in turn were insulted because the latter did not accord them precedence over his metropolitans.(187) To make matters worse, in the letter the three envoys delivered on this occasion, Pope Leo rebuked Cerularius for designating himself as the "Oecumenical Patriarch" and continued the polemic Leo of Ochrida had begun.(188)

The Patriarch was so disappointed by what he took to be the intransigent tone of this document that he refused to believe that it had come from the papal chancery. Acting upon this suspicion, he made a careful study of the seals it bore, declared them to be fictitious, and pronounced the whole composition to be a forgery from the hand of his archenemy Argyrus, a Latin, whom the Emperor Constantine had put in command of the Byzantine forces in Italy.(189)

At this juncture Humbert increased the tension by circulating a Greek translation of the Latin answer to Leo of Ochrida's diatribes.(190) The Byzantines then replied with a counterblast by Nicetas Stethetos,(191) a Studite monk, who was courteous in manner but forthright in his attack on azyma, the celibacy of the Latin clergy, and the Latin adherence to their ordinary liturgy throughout Lent, as contrasted with the Byzantine practice of introducing a special liturgy (that of the Presanctified) which was celebrated during this season except on Saturday and Sunday. Humbert made a vehement and abusive reply.(192) But Nicetas was immediately silenced and forced to recant(193) by Constantine, who was anxious not to jeopardize the negotiations, which, he hoped, would bring Italian military aid against the Normans.

Emboldened by this victory, Humbert, who was ignorant of the history of the question, then incautiously attacked the Greeks for omitting Filioque from the Creed.( 194) But when Cerularius steadfastly refused to confer with the three
Latins, both because he distrusted them as accomplices of Argyrus in forgery and because he insisted upon the participation of emissaries from the other patriarchates in the discussion of the problems at issue,(195) Humbert decided to excommunicate him.

In his bull of excommunication,(196) he not only cited the alleged omission of Filioque as one of his grievances against Cerularius, but also denied him the title of patriarch, and accused the Byzantines of practicing simony, castrating strangers in order to make them priests or bishops, rebaptizing Latin Christians, permitting the clergy to marry, and refusing communion to men who had shaved their beards. Actually, the canon of the Quinisextum (692) had forbidden the clergy to marry after ordination (i.e., they were to marry before being ordained or not at all); and most of the other charges, of which the above are only a sample, were either completely false or ridiculous. For this reason the bull of excommunication enraged both the Emperor Constantine ΙΧ, who had been cordial to the three legates, and the people of Constantinople, who had been repelled by their arrogance. Α synod then anathematized Humbert and his two companions, but the papacy itself was not condemned.(197)

Those who reject 1054 as the official date of the break point out that Pope Leo ΙΧ died before Humbert excommunicated Cerularius and that the excommunication, therefore, has no standing in canon law, although subsequent popes were friendly to Humbert and made no effort to repudiate what he had done in Constantinople. It can be argued also that, despite the anathematisation of Cerularius, which many in Rome, like Pope Stephen ΙΧ (Χ) (1057-58), who, as Frederick of Lorraine, had been one of Humbert's two colleagues on the mission to Constantinople in 1054, took seriously, both churches continued for many years to maintain friendly relations and seemed to be unaware of any formal or final rupture.


180. - Old but still indispensable are Ferdinand Chalandon, Histoire de la domination normande en Italie et en Sicile, 1 (Paris, 1907), 1-188; Jules Gay, L'Italie méridionale et l'empire byzantin (Bibliothèque des Ecoles francaises d' Athènes et de Rome, 90 [Paris, 1904]), 453 ff., 469 ff., 481 ff., 546 ff., 551. See also Anton Michel, "Der kirchliche Wechselverkehr zwischen West und Ost vor dem verschärften Schisma des Kerullarios (1054)," L'Orient syrien, 1 (1952), 145-73; Ε. Pontierri, I Normanni nell'Italia meridionale, 1, La conquista (Naples, 1948). Cf. J. Joseph Ryan, "Letter of an anonymous French reformer to a Byzantine official in South Italy: De simoniaca heresi," MedSt, 15 (1953), 233-42: ca. 1050-54; Carlo G. Mor, "La lotta fra la chiesa greca e la chiesa latina in Puglia nel sec. Χ," Archivio storico pugliese, 4, 3-4 (1951), 58-64; Aurelio Palmieri, "La teologia bizantina e antibizantina in Italia;" Studi bizantini = SBN, 1 (1924), 243-58; Edmund Curtis, Roger of Sicily and the Normans in Lower Italy, 1016-1154 (New York-London, 1912): based on Gay and Chalandon; C. Will, Acta et scripta quae de controversiis ecclesiae graecae et latinae saeculo ΧΙ extant (Leipzig, 1861): documents.

181. - PG, 120, 745.

182. - Steven Runciman, The eastern schism (Oxford, 1955), 28 ff.; Richard Mayne, "East and West in 1054," Cambridge Historical Journal, 11 (1954), 133-48.

183. - Runciman, Eastern schism, 32 ff.

184. - Ibid., 40 ff. The chief work has been done by Anton Michel, Humbert and Kerullarios, 2 vols. (Paderborn, 1924-30), reviewed by V Laurent, ΕΟ, 31 (1932), 97-110; see also Michel, "Schisma and Kaiserhof im Jahre 1054: Michael Psellos," in 1054-1954, L'église et les églises (cited in note 1 above), 1, 351-440; idem, "Sprache and Schisma," in Festschrift Kardinal Faulhaber (Munich, 1949), 37-69; idem, Die Sentenzen des Κardinals Humbert: Das erste Rechtsbuch der päpstlichen Reform (Schriften der MGH, 7 [Leipzig, 1943, reprinted Stuttgart, 1952)); idem, Amalfi und Jerusalem im griechischen Kirchenstreit (1054-90) (Orientalia Christiana Analecta, 121 [Rome, 1939]) (for full list of Michel's writings on this subject, see Mayne, lοc. cit. [in note 182 above], 133 f.); V. Grumel, "Les préliminaires du schisme de Michel Céerulaire οu la question romaine avant 1054," REB, 10 (1952), 5-23; idem, "Le patriarcat byzantin de Michel Cérulaire à la conquête latine (1043-1204)," REB, 4 (1946), 257-63; idem, "Le titre du patriarche oecuménique et Michel Cérulaire à propos de deux de ses sceaux inédits;' in Miscellanea Giovanni Mercati, 3 (ST, 123 (Vatican City, 1946]), Roman-Byzantine relations 1053-1054," MedSt, 20 (1958), 206-38.

185. - PG, 120, 836-44; Roman answer thereto, PL, 143, 744B-769C, 931D-974A. Cf. Runciman, Eastern schism, 42.

186. - These letters are not extant, but their contents can be inferred from PG, 120, 784ΑΒ, and PL, 143, 773Β-781Α, n.b. 774C, 776Α; Michel, Humbert und Kerullarios, 1, 57 n. 1.

187. - PG, 120, 785Β-788Α.

188. - PL, 143, 774C, 776Α.

189. - PG, 120, 784C-785B, 788A-C, 816C. Mayne, loc. cit. (in note 182 above), 140 f., suggests that Cerularius did not think of impugning the authenticity of this document until after he had been excommunicated.

190. - Runciman, Eastern schism, 46.

191. - Ed. Michel, Humbert und Kerullarios, 2, 322, 42; PG, 120, 1012-22; PL, 143, 973-84. Cf. Anton Michel, "Die vier Schriften des Niketas Stethatos über die Azymen," ΒΖ, 35, (1935), 308-36.

192. - PL, 143, 983-85.

193. - So Humbert in his Brevis et succincta commemoratio, PL, 143, 1001-4.

194. - Ed. Michel, Humbert und Kerullarios, 1, 97-111; PG, 120, 816CD.

195. - PG, 120, 816CD, 784C-785B, 788A-C.

196. - Brevis et succincta commemoratio, PL, 143, 1001-4; PG, 120, 741-46 (accurate Greek trans.); Anton Michel, "Die Rechtsgültigkeit des römischen Bannes gegen Michael Kerullarios," ΒΖ, 42 (1943-49), 193-205: argues against Jugie and others that Pope Leo ΙΧ had sent a decree condemning Michael with Humbert;; but see, contra, Runciman, Eastern schism, with references.

197. - PG, 120, 748BC.

Previous Page