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The Greek Schism and its Political Implications

In a book which for three generations was considered as a short account of the Roman Catholic view and a definite statement of the opinion of Roman Catholic scholars about the patriarch Photius, one may read:It is a biography of Photius, by the Alsatian abbé Jager, “Histoire de Photius, patriarche de Constantinople, auteur du schism des Grecs”. 2e. ed. Paris, 1857

“Photius is one of the boldest characters, one of the most extraordinary spirits who have ever figured in the history of religious revolutions. Nine popes, five councils have in turn used all the resources of their authority to stop his ambition and daunt his pride. And in spite of their joint endeavors, they did not succeed in subduing him, nor in preventing him from rending asunder the United Church, bringing about a fatal schism which still endures, and has been the source of great calamities”.

Further: “that man who had been disturbing the Church for more than 34 years was smitten by the anathema of nine popes: first by Leo IV and Benedict III, then by Nicholas I, Hadrian II, John VIII, Marinus, Hadrian III, Stephan V and Formosus. In spite of all their attempts to defend his memory, the Greeks have been unable to suppress the documents which condemned Photius, their own authors vie with one another in depicting his bad faith, his blatant fraud, his loathsome perfidy and his horrible cruelty. Those who shall open their eyes, will ever see that his schism, like so many other church disputes, which took place before and after Photius, the work of human passion, the monstrous lewdness of Bardes, the insatiable ambition of Photius, the impious libertinism of Michael III were the causes for that change, as opposed to the spirit of God as to the happiness of mankind.”

Thus spake the Abbé Jager, and his judgment was confirmed, after a quarter of a century, with the exception of some features really too fraught with exaggeration, (as the charge of horrible cruelty) by a savant of a much higher standing, Hergenröther,Hergenröther, J.A.C., Photius, Patriarch von Konstantinople, 3 vol., Ratisbon, 1867-69 in his monumental work in three volumes, subdivided in ten books, which has not yet been replaced after seventy years, and which, because of its immense erudition, has won the respect even of the Orthodox theologians.

Cardinal Hergenröther, an admirable specialist of Photius literature, made strenuous efforts to be fair to the great adversary of Rome. Nevertheless, in its main lines, you will find again, in his scholarly work, the very thesis of Jager, and, above all, the history of Photius, as it is summed up in Jager’s sentences which I have just quoted, is exactly that which Hergenröther has written, diluted at considerable length.

Photius, in spite of a temporary recognition by Pope John VIII, was, according to Hergenröther, condemned in succession by all the popes, his contemporaries, including John VIII himself, correcting his previous error.

After his second deposition, Photius concluded his rebellious life as an excommunicated schismatic, and his schism, the duration of which had been forty years came to an end as late as 898, under the Emperor Leo VI.

But it had left traces so deep that the slightest quarrel between Rome and Byzantium was enough to rekindle it, and to consummate it. And this occurred in 1054, under the Patriarch Michael Cerularius, who made the Greek schism, as it were, eternal.

There is today general agreement among scholars and even theologians concerning the first Patriarchate of Photius.

One knows exactly how things came to pass. On the 20th of December 858, under the reign of a young emperor of twenty-two years of age, Michael III, (a historical character who like Photius himself was subjected to much slander, despite his spirited temperament, and his great political and military achievements), the old and stubborn patriarch Ignatius, fallen into disgrace with the powerful Caesar Bardas, uncle of the reigning emperor, was deposed; in his stead, of the 25th of December, a maan, a layman, was seated on the patriarchal throne, after having received in accelerated and hasty succession all the ecclesiastic orders. He was a relative of the dynasty, and the most learned man of his time.

That man was Photius, hitherto a diplomat and a professor. Pope Nicholas I, at the beginning, did not bluntly refuse to acknowledge that election, in spite of the two-fold irregularity with which it was stained (neither of those two formal defects was without precedent: forced resignation and sudden promotion of a layman to the highest church office).

One may say that the resignation of Ignatius was not a clear case for Ignatius seems to have really resigned at first, and afterwards to have withdrawn his resignation, contending that he had been acting under duress, moreover, some of the best patriarchs recognized by Rome, as Tarensius for instance, had been laymen.

But Pope Nicholas I adopted a dilatory attitude and put off his decision about the validity of the patriarchal election. He believed that he could avail himself of a delicate situation in order to obtain from Michael and the new patriarch the restitution of Illyricum and of the Patrimony of Saint Peter in Calabria and in Sicily which had been, in the VIIIth century, taken away from the older Rome by Leo III the Isaurian.

He agreed, however, to send his legatee to Constantinople, where a council was to be held in 861, allegedly to deal with the last remnants of the Iconoclastic party, but in reality to settle the case of the reluctant Ignatius.

It seems fairly certain from the very testimony of one of his followers, that Ignatius had formally and regularly resigned. It must be confessed that although a saint acknowledged as such by both churches, he was a stubborn and rather bigoted and ignorant monk, and had lost much of his popularity. He had tacked  in a very awkward manner the question of the private life of that great man, the Caesar Bardas, whom public gossip charged with “incestuous” relations with his niece. Ignatius had been chosen against the wish of the more enlightened and liberal section of the Byzantine upper classes and court circles. And Photius, whose learning and abilities were tremendously superior to those of any other one of his contemporaries, and who really deserved to give his name to his century. Photius, who is the living link between the ancient Greek world and the Renaissance period, because he preserved in his patriarchal library, hundreds of rare works of Greek literature, the only extant copy of which was his and his only, Photius, whose disciple Arethas who preserved for us the correct and complete text of Plato, Photius, the greatest of the Byzantines, as we would call him, was not only the candidate of the Court and of the intellectuals, but he was really forced upon the most narrow-minded churchmen by a kind of vox populi. This must be taken cum grano salis, for it cannot be gainsayed that there was an Ignatian party recruited among the illiterate monks and the ignorant populace. And it is precisely that part of obstinate die-hards, which encouraged the old Ignatius into retracting his resignation. Thus when the Council of 861 gathered regularly in the presence of the legates of the Pope Nicholas, it could only take cognizance of the anti-canonical behavior of the old man, whose legal position was really hopeless. Therefore, he was unanimously deposed in all ecclesiastical forms and condemned. But on their return to Rome, the legates possibly to their great surprise was disavowed by Pope Nicholas.

The true reason for this declared hostility, suddenly proclaimed by Pope Nicholas, was the polite refusal opposed by the Patriarch to the claims put forward by Rome, concerning Illyricum. Photius rightly considered the Illyricum question as being of a political nature, and he found himself incompetent to settle it by himself to the satisfaction of the Pope.

It must be said that the controversy was a very old one, and its sudden revival by the Pope must have been considered with suspicion and even indignation by the Byzantine public.

The origin of that dispute is well known. When a quarrel broke out between Pope Gregory III and the Byzantine Iconoclastic Emperor Leo III the Isaurian (about the year 730) the Emperor availed himself of this conflict to do away with a striking discrepancy between political and ecclesiastic geography, which had been in existence since the separation of the Eastern and of the Western Empire in 395. Not only the provinces of Southern Italy and Sicily, but also, on the Balkan mainland, the vast province of Illyricum, including Greece, the capital of which was Thessalonica, belonged to the Roman patriarchate, not to that of Constantinople, although Illyricum naturally formed part of the Eastern Roman Empire/ That situation went on and became always more paradoxical. When in the VIth century, Sicily and Italy were reconquered from the Goths by Justinian, and partly retained in spite of the invasion of the Lombards, Sicily and the provinces of Southern Italy, administered directly by Constantinople became more and more Hellenized. And the Latin character of Illyricum was greatly impaired by the Slavonic invasions. So about 730, the situation was as follows: a vast tract of land in Southern Illyricum, Southern Italy and Sicily, either Greek or re-hellenized, and thoroughly Byzantine in spirit, was still under the jurisdiction of the Pope. As long as the Pope behaved himself as a faithful subject of the Byzantine Emperor, that situation was not extraordinary. But, in the turmoil of the Iconoclastic controversy, the Pope in fact appeared as the head of an, at least passive, rebellion against the Empire. So Leo III was logically led to annex Sicily and Byzantine Calabria, as it was called, to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, identifying so to speak the ecclesiastical boundary with the political one. All the protests of the popes remained fruitless. It may be questioned whether Nicholas I was well inspired in reviving suddenly an old claim of his church, exploiting so to say an internal quarrel of the Byzantine Church, and a partisan struggle between Ignatius and Photius.

At any rate his policy proved fatal to the unity of the Church itself. Nicholas had thought that the Ignatian party was the stronger. He allied himself as a matter of fact, with a Byzantine minority. The opportunity was ill-chosen; for, if the Pope was strong, the Byzantine Emperor was stronger. This period was precisely a period of increased prestige and glory of the Empire of Constantinople and the Pope’s policy served only to tighten the alliance between the Byzantine Court and the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

When, in 863, the Pope, in a council summoned at Rome in the Lateran Palace, dared to condemn, excommunicate and depose Photius, Photius retaliated by a vigorous offensive, in which he had the full support of the young Emperor Michael III, and of his powerful uncle, the Caesar Bardas. The old dispute about Illyricum had suddenly become envenomed, by the appearance upon the stage of history of a new Christian nation, whose obedience was claimed both by Rome and by Byzantium.

In 864, the Bulgarians, a people of Turkish stock, which had organized into a powerful state most of the Eastern Balkan Slavs, became converts to Christianity, and wavered some time between older and younger Rome. There began what a British historian, Mr. Stephen Runcimen, calls, “the auction for souls”. Nicholas tried to attract the Bulgarians, warning them against Byzantine influences, and Byzantine corruption of the creed, and of the true Christian practices, as he put it.

Michael and Photius, on the other hand, sent missionaries into Bulgaria, and king Boris recognizing the political and military predominance of his imperial neighbors, was baptized according to the Byzantine rites, and assumed the very name of his godfather, the young Emperor Michael III. It is that baptism of Boris-Michael which made irreconcilable the two contending parties, old and new Rome.

A theological and diplomatic correspondence was exchanged between Rome and Byzantium, on that subject, violent and impassioned, full of mutual reproaches and abuse. The principal documents are: an ironical letter of Michael III, which is lost, and a reply by Nicholas I, which is preserved, and helps to reconstruct the former letter.

Photius boldly carried the debate on the dogmatic field, and, in his encyclical letter of 866, addressed to the Eastern Patriarchate, began to indict with the greatest vehemence the corrupted practices of the Western Church. He found fault with everything. There had been, for centuries, some difference in the discipline and customs of both churches, but they had generally been spoken of with a certain amount of charity as being merely local differences, which could not impair the unity of the Church. Now, trifles like fasting on Saturdays, which was a Western custom, were denounced as capital sins. A more important item was the celibacy of the lower clergy insisted upon by Rome, objected to by the Eastern Church, which professed to see in it an exaggerated and dangerous form of austerity, tainted with manichaeism. (The Manichaeans were accused of reviling human flesh as being the world and realm of the evil principle). This controversy was old, and the Council in Trullo (691/2), at Constantinople, had already condemned the compulsory celibacy, but there had been no schism in consequence of that stressing of a peculiar observance of the Eastern Church. It now became a powerful weapon in the hands of the aggressive Patriarch.

However, Photius’ greatest trump was his discovery of a grave corruption of the Roman symbol of the Faith, where, it is true one word had crept in which is not warranted by any genuine copy of the symbol. This addition to the symbol came from some Spanish churches. The naïve feeling of some Western communities found it strange that the Holy Ghost was said, in the original Greek symbol, to from the Father only, and the word “filioque” … “and from the Son” was added, for fear that the dignity of Christ should be impaired and considered subordinate or inferior to that of God the Father. The Pope himself knew well enough that the genuine form of the symbol lacked the “filioque”. He even preserved, engraved on two shields (elipei) an allegedly very ancient credo going back to the apostolic age with no “filioque”. It is only in consequence of Photius’ fierce attack that the entire Roman Catholic Apologetics developed in defense of the suspicious addition. Meanwhile, Photius was triumphant. He summoned in 857 a council where Pope Nicholas was solemnly condemned. All the Eastern Bishops were present, Emperor Michael presided over this synod, and probably at his side, his favourite Basil, who was to become very soon his murderer and successor.

Michael’s uncle, the Caesar Bardas, had been murdered by Michael and Basil the year before. Photius had reached the climax of success and glory. The Eastern Patriarchs of Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria had taken sides with him, and, although all three were living under Arab yoke, they had succeeded in sending representatives of their churches to the Council of Constantinople.

Even in the West, he had powerful allies, among whom the Carolingian Emperor Louis II, whom the Council hailed, with his Empress Ingelberge, saluted with the name of new Pulcheria. Pulcheria was tge Byzantine Empress who, four hundred and sixteen years before, in 451, had presided over the Fourth Oecumenical Council at Chalcedon, with her husband Marcian. She had become a saint for having helped the Church to define the true doctrine about the two natures of Christ. It is evidently Photius who had inspired that over-complimentary acclamation, which was sure to win over to his cause the Court of Ingelberge and to make of the Roman or German Emperor himself an ally of the Byzantines against the Pope of Rome.

Photius seemed to have almost everybody and almost everything on his side: learning, eloquence, imperial favor, an incredible luck. Heaven seemed to bless his missions. You know, of course, that the greatest event of the history of Byzantium took place during those years. I am speaking of the conversion of the Slavs, of which that of the Bulgarians is only an episode. If today, the Christians of the Byzantine rite number about two hundred million, if in other words the spiritual heirs of Byzantium perpetuating largely in spite of the diversity of idioms, the trend of mind of the contemporaries of Photius, are four times as numerous as the inhabitants of the whole Roman Empire, and outnumber probably the votaries of the Roman Catholic Church in Europe, that miraculous increase, reminding us of the parable of the mustard seed,For remember “the mustard-seed, which indeed is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown it is the greatest of all herbs and becometh a tree so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof”. (And I don’t even think that the episode of Bolshevism will have stopped that growth of Byzantine Christianity). (Matthew XII, 13), is due to this conversion.

Moreover, please note that the fact that the Slavic languages spoken by Eastern Christians are Slavic in the primitive roots and the forms of the grammatical flexion, but not in the elaborate form of the language which has been completely shaped after the model of the Greek tongue, for thousands and thousands of words and especially of compounds, are simply transcripts from the Greek original, so that one may say that the Orthodox Slavs really think in Greek, even today. The conversion of the Slavs was the work of Michael Bardas and Photius, it was a piece of superior diplomacy, made possible only by the prominent political influence of Byzantium in the fifties and sixties of the IXth century. First the Moravians, who dwelled in Hungary and Slovaks of today, sent for Byzantine missionaries, in their desire to escape the pressure of the Teutonic world, which was under the influence of older Rome. As the Slavs then still spoke largely the same idiom, it was immediately possible for Byzantium to send them Greek priests born in Salonica, who knew the Slavic language spoken in Macedonia. It is that dialect that the Gospel was hastily translated into by the famous apostles of the Slavs, Constantine or Cyril, and Method or Methodius, two friends of Photius.

The Moravian mission, and even the Moravian state, proved ultimately a failure. The Byzantine missionaries were repelled from Moravia, by German and Catholic influence, and at the end of the IXth century, great Moravia was destroyed by the Hungarians who were to become Roman Catholics. But those Byzantine missionaries transferred their activity into Bulgaria and there they were completely successful. Photius had even sent a bishop to the Russians of Kiev, although the actual christening of the Russians had to wait for another century, during which a rich Christian literature in Slavonic had been created and was the basis for the mission in Russia proper.

The fame of Photius cannot be severed from that of his imperial master. If Michael III in 864 could concentrate in the Balkans a powerful army which helped to curb the Bulgarians under the yoke of Christ, it was because he had beaten in 863 the Arabs of the Euphrates in a crowning victory, that of the battle of Lalakaon-Malakopeia. The last Emperor of the Amorian dynasty, Michael III, ushered in the triumphant period in Byzantine history (863-1025).

But precisely that association with a sovereign whose memory was about to be condemned was Photius’ tragedy. When Basil, called the Macedonian (who was really an Armenian adventurer), murdered his benefactor Michael in 867, his next step was to depose Photius, and to replace him by the old Ignatius. The murderer found himself rather weak. The Paulicians, a Christian sect, allied to Islam, had invaded Western Asia, and the Arabs were very menacing in Sicily and Southern Italy.

Basil feared the army, which had been blindly devoted to his predecessor. The ghosts of the Caesar Bardas and of the Emperor Michael deprived of his very rest this Macbeth. He sorely needed a powerful party and a potential ally. Therefore, he addressed himself very logically to the Ignatians, who, more than every, had the support of Rome. The Pope eagerly seized that opportunity taking a brilliant revenge for the humiliation of 867. But Nicholas was no longer alive. He had died before receiving the good news of his great opponent’s fall; he had been replaced by Pope Hadrian II, who sent three legates: Bonatus, Stephen and Marinus, to the so-called (by Roman Catholics) VIIIth Oecumenical Council of 869/870. Only one hundred and fifty bishops attended that synod. Photius was, under imperial pressure, duly anathematized. But the triumph of Rome was short-lived. Ignatius deserved to the full his fame for stubbornness; after having been solemnly reinstated, he failed to show the Pope the form of gratitude expected of him by the Western Church. He considered as settled for ever the question of Illyricum, and showed himself by no means no more amenable in the question of the Bulgarians. Boris-Michael, first Christian King of Bulgaria, had definitely chosen Byzantine allegiances and Ignatius without any shame or regret, kept his new flock. His obduracy well nigh brought upon him the fate of Photius. One of the greatest ironies in world history is the sending by John VIII (successor of Adrian II) to Saint Ignatius of Papal Legates instructed to excommunicate the reinstated Patriarch, should he not give up the disputed diocese. That excommunication was avoided by the old ascetic through his death: “felix opportunitate mortis”.

We are again at a turning point in the history of Photius, or rather in the history of Papal policy. John VIII (872-882) is about to perform his famous “renversement d’alliances” (reversal of alliances). The two former popes, in the internal quarrel of the Greek Church, had chosen to support the Ignatians against the Photians. But John VIII had soon been disgusted with Ignatius and had contemplated a reconciliation with the more intelligent, and after his reverses, more pliant, Photius. A Papal ambassador, the famous Anastasius the Librarian, who foresaw the turnover, had adroitly contacted the retired Patriarch, had favorably reported to Rome about him, and set forth in his dispatches, how futile the dogmatic quarrel had been, which embroiled with a personal conflict, had led to the unfortunate exchange of ecclesiastic thunderbolts from 863-867.

John VIII was a great diplomatist, and a moderate man, whom learned Catholic writers have tended to rehabilitate still more and more since the fine and just book of the Jesuit Lapôtre.Lapôtre, A. L’Europe et le Saint-Siège à l’époque Carolingienne, Le Pape Jean VIII, Paris 1895. John VIII surmised, not without reason, that this time, in order to be recognized by Rome, Photius would sacrifice Bulgaria.

After the death of Ignatius the Obstinate, John recognized in principle Photius, who, being the only possible candidate for the Patriarchate had been immediately reinstated by the Emperor Basil. The date is October 23rd, 877. Photius, once in exile, had been recalled to Constantinople two years before and had succeeded in gaining the sympathy of the Emperor to such an extent that he had been appointed tutor to his sons.

Photius naturally wanted a solemn rehabilitation. The evil council of ten years before (869/70) had to be cancelled, and replaced by a new, a larger synod, deserving fully the name of Oecumenical, and that aim was achieved, because John VIII, still hoped for the surrender of the Bulgarian apple of discord. Photius showed himself a master in the preparation of his council, and got together as many as many as three hundred and eighty-three bishops, sixty-five more than those who composed the most holy Synod of Nice. The legates from Rome carried with them gifts of the Pope for the Patriarch, and their instructions implied full recognition and confirmation subject to some conditions, about the exact tenor of which there has been a good deal of discussion during these last years. The main question is this: we have preserved in the Acts of the Photian Council, in a Greek translation, the instructions of the Pope to his legates. And a Latin text of the same letters is to be found in the Papal Registers in the Archives of Rome. There are substantial differences between both texts. The Roman Catholic version is that Photius had falsified the Pope's letters suppressing some definite demands such as the Pope’s claim that the acts of the previous council (the anti-Photian), should be upheld. Recent research has proved that the Greek text is more genuine than the Latin one. And especially there can be no doubt about the fact that the Council of 879 was to abolish that of 869. It is one of the greatest surprises of historical unbiased research, one principally to Professor Dvornik, that, for centuries, even in the West, the real authentic, canonic VIIIth council is the Photian one, not the anti-Photian. The Pope had really agreed to liquidate that assembly, and to let fall the condemnation set forth by the synod against Photius. The counterpoint is not difficult to guess. In a letter dated August 880, John VIII thanks Emperor Basil for having restituted to Saint Peter as he says: “Vulgariorum diocesim”. That was Photius’ concession, which was really nominal, because of the Bulgarians who kept their faith to Byzantium. Dogmatically, however, Photius had won a great victory: there is a letter of John VIII, preserved in the Acts if the Council, blaming those who insert “filoque” in the Credo.

Of course, there occurred some friction between the Patriarch and the Pope after the Council, but in spite of the conventional lie of modern textbooks, John VIII died on December 15, 852 without having openly broken with Photius, and that is true also of the following Popes: Marinus, Hadrian III and Stephen V.

Whence then does it come that Jager, Hergenröther, and many others repeat the story of a renewed anathema launched against Photius by John himself, shortly before his death, and his successors, Marinus, Hadrian and Stephen?

The belief in a second Photian schism has been doubted for the first time in 1933 and 1934 by two priests of the Roman Catholic Church, Father V. Grumel,Grumel, Revue des Sciences philosophiques et théologiques III (1933) pp 452-457 an Assumptionist, and Frantisek Dvornik, professor of the Czech University of Prague, the sensational article of this latter savant bore the striking title: “Le second schisme de Photius: une mystification historique”.Byzantion VIII (1933), pp. 425-474. cf. Byzantion XI (1936) pp 1-19, Sem. Kondakov. I pp 69-93

Naturally neither Jager nor Hergenröther have invented that poisonous legend. They found it in their sources. The domestic struggle between Ignatians and Photians had brought about the organization of a kind of non-conformist church, that of the uncompromising extremists who being more Catholic than the Pope, never gave up their hatred and their resentment of the layman, the intruder, the usurper, as they called him. And, even after Ignatius’ death, they protested against their chief adversary’s reinstatement. They invoked against the peaceful and even friendly attitude of John VIII and his successors, a lot of documents which they pretended to be of Roman origin. They circulated against Photius all sorts of libels containing forged letters of different popes or genuine letters of the Popes, but mutilated and interpolated. They utilized in the most malignant way, the old anathema by Nicholas I, and tried to make believe that that anathema had never been withdrawn, but on the contrary had been renewed several times. The Ignatians had become a political party. They were encouraged when in 886 Photius was deposed for the second time, without any papal intervention, and for purely political reasons. Leo VI, son of Basil, had been on very bad terms with his father, who had even put him into jail, and he felt convinced that the Patriarch had sided with his father against him. Photius died in 897, deposed, but not excommunicated, in spite of the renewed efforts of the Ignatian clique, who accumulated against him an incredible mass of slander, the masterpiece of which is the so-called “Life of the Holy Patriarch Ignatius” by Nicetas the Paphlagonian, which under the cover and pretence of hagiography, is the most venomous of pamphlets.

It is the great merit, I repeat, of Roman Catholic scholars, Grumel, Dvornik, and, since the spell is broken, Amanu, Jugic and others, to have completely demolished that bulk of false evidence against Photius. They could do so, without incurring censure by their Church, because the source of the Anti-Photian is evidently not Roman Catholic, but Byzantine. It is so true that the Popes themselves had to intervene to put an end to that hyper-Ignatian rebellion, and to force those bigoted anti-Photians to submit to their legitimate Patriarch. The Greek Church has tried to ignore that painful incident, and to reconcile the two enemies, or rather, the infuriated partisans f the two patriarchs who died at peace with each other, and, at the end of the Xth century, an anathema was set up and is ever read in church since that time on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, against all those who speak evil of our two holy Patriarchs Ignatius and Photius. The Roman Catholic Church is about to follow that example, and to cease to lay the unfortunate schism to Photius, the greatest of all Byzantines.

Who then is responsible for the Schism? And when was it consummated for ever?

This was due to the Norman conquest of Southern Italy, which rekindled the old quarrels and made sore again old points of friction. And it was due, as in the case of Nicholas I, to the ambition and daring of challenging Churchmen of the West, immediately opposed by a Patriarch, Michael Cerullarios, who under the reign of a very weak and shadowy Emperor Constantine IX, behaved himself exactly as a Pope, on the Patriarchal throne, so much so, that that enemy of Rome must have been desirous of imitating the most powerful Bishops of Rome. Of course, the conflict was not altogether a personal or futile one this time. The great popes of the XIth century were Reformers animated by the spirit of Cluny, they prepared themselves for the great show-down with the secular power, the Investiture Quarrel. And to break the influence of the Emperor, who threatened to confiscate the church offices, they stressed the necessity of moral purity in the Militia Christi, and consequently the celibacy of the Clergy: an old and familiar point of dispute, which suddenly appears in quite another light, and around which the whole struggle focuses. Here the contrary practice, so stubbornly maintained by the Eastern Church, became, for the Reformers’ undertaking, a major stumbling-block, which must be removed at any cost. No compromise was possible. Both parties took the offensive, but the man who brought about the final and decisive scandal was Cardinal Humbert, the Papal nunzio at Constantinople, who overstepped his instructions, and during the vacancy of the Holy See, boldly put on the Main Altar of Sainte Sophie, on July 16th 1054, a Bull of Excommunication against the Patriarch Michael Cerullarios, and his followers. The Church was rent asunder. We shall see in our following lectures how the Normans drew a political profit from the disruption of Christian Unity and made of the Schism a major weapon in their undertakings against the Christian Empire in the East.