The Ninth Century
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802 The Empress Irene was deposed by a group of state officials, arrested, and exiled to an island in the Marmara, then to Lesbos, where she died in 803.
801 An embassy Charlemagne had sent to Baghdad returned (only one of the three envoys survived the trip), bringing an elephant with them. The Caliph Harun al Rashid had given Charlemagne permission to establish a Carolingian monastery in Jerusalem. The eastern monks were shocked by the Frankish alteration to the creed (the filioque). The western monks appealed to Leo III, bishop of Rome from 795-816, to settle the controversy. See 809 & 810 below.
803 The archbishopric of Lichfield (see 785 above) was terminated by the synod of Cloveshoe. “We give this charge, and sign it with the sign of the cross, that the archepiscopal from this time forward never be in the monastery of Lichfield, nor in any other place but the city of Canterbury, where Christ’s Church is, and where the Catholic faith first shone forth in this island, and where holy baptism was first celebrated by St. Augustine ... But if any dare to rend Christ's garment and to divide the untiy of the holy Church of God, contrary to the apostolic precepts and all ours, let him know that he is eternally damned, unless he make due satisfaction for what he has wickedly done, contrary to the canons.”
804 Alcuin wrote to the people of Lyons cautioning them not to insert the filioque into the creed. The Spanish bishop Felix d’Urgel had been banished there and was advocating including the filioque. [Note: this event is problematic. By 804, Felix had renounced adoptionism, and Alcuin is known to have advocated the use of the filioque in public worship.]
805 A synod of Aachen in this year instructed bishops to develop schools of church music, based on the Roman model (see 595 above).
805 Charlemagne proscribed the weapons trade with the Slavs.
806 The Monastery of St. Columba on Iona destroyed by Viking raiders. All the monks were killed.
806 Theodore Studites opposed the emperor Nicephorus I (802-11) over the appointment of another Nichephorus (806-15) as patriarch of Constantinople. Theodore opposed this appointment because the future patriarch was soft on adulterous remarriages (see 795), took conciliatory positions on theological matters, and was nominated to the patriarchate while still a layman. Because of Nichephorus’ opposition to iconoclasm, he later gained Theodore’ approval.
808-10 The Roman (Byzantine) chronologist George Synkellos wrote his Chronography, based on the Alexandrian Era (see 5509 at the beginning of the timeline). He placed creation in 1 A.M. (anno mundi, year of the world – 5492 B.C.), the flood in 2242 A.M. (3251 B.C.), the Exodus in 3817 A.M. (1676 B.C.), the Incarnation in 5501 A.M. (9 A.D.), and the Crucifixion in 5533 A.M. (41 B.C.). Synkellos held that the Incarnation, Resurrection and the creation of the world occurred on March 25.
809 Theodore Studites exiled for the second time (809-811) after his condemnation by a synod.
809 At the Council of Aachen (or Aix-La-Chapelle), Charlemagne decreed that belief in the filioque was necessary for salvation. He also commissioned Theodulf of Orleans to collect patristic passages supporting the addition to the creed.
810 The council of Aix-la-Chapelle referred the question of the filioque to the Pope. According to the minutes of the conversation held in 810 between the three apocrisari of Charlemagne and Pope Leo III, kept by the Frankish monk Smaragdus, Leo accepted the teaching of the Fathers, quoted by the Franks, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, as taught by Augustine and Ambrose. However, he declared that the filioque must not be added to the Creed, as the Franks had done. Leo gave the Franks permission to sing the Creed, but not to add to the Creed. Leo emphasized that he could not put himself in a position higher than the Fathers of the Synods, who did not omit the filioque out of oversight or ignorance, but by divine inspiration.
had the creed engraved,
on two tablets of silver and hung them in St. Peter’s Church above the
inscription, “I, Leo, have put up these tablets for the love and
of the orthodox faith.” The Franks, it appears, simply ignored
the pope’s instructions to omit the filioque
when reciting the creed.
811 The Bulgar Khan Krum killed the Roman emperor Nicephorus I (802-11) in battle in a narrow gorge in the Balkans. Krum had Nicephorus’s skull fashioned into a goblet.
811 Charlemagne acted as judge in a dispute between the churches of Salzburg and Aquileia over missionary activity in the Carantanian region.
813 The Bulgars sacked Adrianople and burned the suburbs of Constantinople. Their Khagan Krum died the following year.
814 A treaty between the Romans (Byzantines) and the Franks guaranteed Venice’s political independence from the German empire. By 840/41, Venice was acting independently of Constantinople as well.
Charlemagne died at Aachen. His son Louis the Pious succeeded him.
815 (813?) With the ascension of the Emperor Leo the Armenian (Leo V, 813-20) to the throne in Constantinople, icons were again banned within the Roman Empire.
815 Patriarch Nicephorus of Constantinople was exiled to a monastic retreat near Chalcedon. While there, he wrote influential treatises against iconoclasm.
815 A Bulgar boyar emigrated to Constantinople and took the Christian name of Theodore. He was given the rank of patrician. Conversions like this appear to have been not uncommon in this era, as attested by a letter to the boyar from Theodore Studites.
816 Theodore Studites again exiled (816-20), this time for his opposition to iconoclasm.
The archbishop of Lyons,
wrote pamphlets against Jewish proselytizers active in southern Gaul
both peasants and town dwellers, and against Jewish influence in the
court. When Agobard sent missions to the Jews in Lyons, they
to King Louis the Pious (814-40), who sided with his Jewish subjects.
816 Pope Stephen IV (816-17) crowned Loius the Pious emperor in Rheims.
The deposed patriarch of
wrote Apologeticus major, a defense of the
of icons. His persuasiveness may have been a factor in
II’s relative toleration of the iconodules. Nicephorus is well
for his Breviarium Nicephori, a history of the Roman Empire from
and for his chronological tables, listing the major ecclesial and
leaders from Adam to 829. Much of Nicephorus’s work was
into Latin by Anastasius the Librarian (seee 867-8 below).
817 Pope Paschal I (817-24) persuaded the Frankish emperor Louis to agree to the Pactum Ludovicianum, a document that confirmed the papacy’s ownership of the papal patrimonies and forbade the Frankish emperor from interfering in papal affairs, unless invited. It also stipulated that newly elected popes need not await imperial confirmation before they assumed office.
820 The emperor Michael II (820-29), an iconoclast, allowed Theodore Studites to return to Constantinople. Theodore was prevented from resuming his role as abbot.
822 Mojmir (prince of Moravia) baptized by bishop Reginhere of Passau, a Frank.
Ebo of Rheims
and Willeric, bishop of Bremen, traveled to Denmark to convince its
Harald Flak, to accept Christianity.
824 Pope Eugenius (824-27) accepted Frankish imperial sovereignty in the papal state. He also accepted the Frankish emperor’s requirement that an elected pope must swear fealty to the Frankish emperor before he being consecrated.
825 The monk Blathmac of Iona was murdered by Vikings for refusing to say where the monastery’s treasure was hidden. The story of his death spread rapidly, at least as far as Reichenau.
826 King Harald Flak of Denmark baptized a Christian at the German imperial court in Ingelheim (near Mainz).
827 The Aghlabid Amirs of Northern Africa invaded Sicily.
827/8 Muslims from Spain attacked Crete. They enslaved the populace of twenty-nine cities. Christian worship was permitted at only one site on the island. Afterwards, the Muslims raided the island of Aegina in the gulf of Corinth. All the inhabitants were killed or deported.
827 The emperor Michael the Stammerer (Michael II, 820-29) sent King Louis the Pious of France (814-840) a copy of the works of the Pseudo-Dionysius.
828 The relics of St. Mark the Evangelist moved from Egypt to Venice.
830+ Refounding of the University of Constantinople by the emperor Theophilus I (829-42). Its output of scholars fueled the empire’s prosperity through the next several centuries, as well as influencing the conversion of the Slavs (for example, see 862 below). The eastern renaissance was also assisted by government reform, the implementation of new administrative regions known as themes. Extant documentations shows themes established in Peloponnese (800), Macedonia (802), Cephalonia and the Ionian Islands (809), Dyrrachium (825) and Thessalonica (836). (A theme was a districts settled with soldiers who undertook a hereditary obligation of military service. Themes were governed by strategoi, who enjoyed both military and civilian command.)
Baptism of a large number
bishop Reginhere of Passau.
831 Saracen forces under Khalif Mamun invaded Cappadocia (Asia Minor). The action forced Roman (Byzantine) Emperor Theophilos (829-42) to concentrate forces there, leaving Sicily weakened. The Saracens had been gnawing at Sicily since 827. They finally took the island in 859.
832 Anskar, educated at the monastery at Corbie, who had gone to Denmark in 826 and recently become bishop of Hamburg, traveled to Rome where he was given a sweeping commission to evangelize the North by Gregory IV (bishop of Rome, 827-844).
832 Devastated by excessive taxation and torture, the Copts of lower Egypt rebelled once again against their Saracen overlords (see 725 and 739). Their villages, vines, gardens, and churches were burned down. Many were killed or deported.
833 Mojmir (prince of Moravia) annexed the territory of Pribina, prince of the Slav territory Nitra. Moravian power had grown since Charlemagne’s defeat of the Avars in 795. Afterwards, Pribina visited King Louis the German (840-76), under whose protection Pribina built a fortress and church at Zalavar at the western end of Lake Balaton in Pannonia (now Hungary). Archbishop Liupram of Salzburg consecrated the church there and sixteen other churches in Pannonia.
834 During the tenure of the Armenian Catholicus John V (834-55) a certain Sembat who lived in the highlands north of Lake Van founded a heretical sect known as the Thonraki. In beliefs and practices, the Thonraki were similar to the Paulicians (see 719). The Thonraki lingered until the nineteenth century.
835 The Frankish king Louis the Pious, at the urging of Gregory IV (828-44), bishop of Rome, began to observe All Saints’ Day on November 1. That date had been celebrated as All Saints’ Day in England since late in the eighth century.
838 Muslims from Carmargue, Spain made a razzia (a raid to capture slaves) to Marseilles, France.
838 A certain Bodo from Alemannia, a deacon in the service of the Frankish King Louis the Pious, secretly converted to Judaism under the influence of prominent Jews at Louis’s court. Pretending to go on pilgrimage to Rome, Bodo traveled to Spain where he changed his name to Eleazar, married a Jewish girl, and forced his nephew to convert to Judaism as well. Eleazar entered into correspondence with Paul Avlar of Cordoba, the son of Jewish converts to Christianity, on the question of the relative merits of the two faiths. Eleazar predicted the future victory of the Jews and the appearance of the Messiah in 867. He accused Christians of tritheism and of worshipping a man.
A few years after removing to Spain, Eleazar attempted to convince the Amir Abd-ar-Rahman II, ruler of Spain, to coerce Christians into abandoning their faith.
~840 The monastery at Samos (northwestern Spain), originally founded by bishop Ermefredus of Lugo in about 660, re-established by an immigrant from the Islamic south of Spain about this year. More monks fled there from Cordoba in 857.
840 A certain lady named Dhouda, living in southern France, wrote a work on Christian devotion for her son.
840+ Miracle stories collected at Fulda by a monk named Rudolf refer to the sacrament of confession.
840+ Amolus, successor to Agobard as archbishop of Lyons, wrote a work entitled Liber contra Judeos, dedicated to the emperor of the western Franks, Charles the Bald. Amolus stated that some Christians in Lyons were visiting synagogues because rabbis were better preachers than Christian priests. He complained of the Toledoth Yeshu, an anti-Christian work that ridiculed the gospels. Amolus mentioned the practice of Jewish taxgatherers who offered to forgive taxes to peasants who agreed to convert to Judaism.
842 The Empress Theodora, after her husband’s death and in the name of her five-year old son, the Emperor Michael III, recalled the Orthodox bishops and priests who had been expelled from their positions by her iconoclastic husband, the Emperor Theophilus. A synod was convened to re-affirm the Orthodox faith against the iconoclasts.
from Carmagure, Spain made a
razzia to Arles,
842 Saracen forces captured Messina in Sicily, thus gaining control over the Strait of Messina.
843 The Partition of Verdun. Charlemagne’s empire was distributed among Louis II the German (Germany), Charles the Bald (Neustria and Aquitaine – most of modern France), and Lothair (Italy and a trip from the Rhone basin to the Belgian coast).
843 On the first Sunday of Great Lent, March 11, the Synodicon of Orthodoxy was first proclaimed. In its current form, the Synodicon varies somewhat from location to location. It anathematizes:
all attacks upon the
Tarasius, Nicephorus, Methodius, Ignatius, Photius, Stephen, Anthony,
section in green below is included here to provide a summary of
the complete Synodicon.
The anathemas are also listed elsewhere in the
timeline, in their proper chronological settings.]
Gerontius (11th century),
called himself “Christ”;
Nilus’s error was to hold that Christ’s human nature was deified by nature rather than by hypostatic union; see 1184 below.
(22) Nilus’s doctrines, and those who agree with them;
The next four anathemas address the errors of the Bogomils, a Manichean-like sect of the tenth through thirteenth centuries. The Bogomils had a low view of creation, and of the God of creation. They held that man's redemption consisted in being freed by death of his body which imprisoned him in this life. These anathemas were added in 1143.
those who deny that the
the Trinity have one nature; those who say the Son was created
and is merely an angel; and those who say that the Holy Spirit is
to the Son and the Father;
The next two anathemas are directed against Eustratios (Eustratius), metropolitan of Nicaea, who had been one of Italos’s pupils. Eustratios was condemned in 1117. Leo, the metropolitan of Chalcedon, held the view that it was iconoclastic to melt down the precious metals of icon frames. Leo was corrected in 1091/92. From the following, they seem to separated the hypostasis of Christ.
those who say that
will always be in servitude to his Divine nature;
The following eight anathemas are directed against the errors of Basilakes and Soterichus, condemned by the Synod of Blachernae in 1157.
those who say that Christ
to God the Father alone, and not to himself and to the Holy Spirit;
The following anathemas are directed against Constantine the Bulgarian, formerly Metropolitan of Corfu, and John Irenicus, whose views were condemned by a synod in 1166.
Constantine the Bulgarian,
“My father is greater than I” refers only to Christ's human nature,
in abstraction; whereas the Fathers use such an abstraction only to
statements implying servitude or ignorance, and explain the statement
father is greater than I” in various ways, one of which is that the
refers to the fact that Christ’s human nature retained its properties
the hypostatic union;
the iconoclastic synod;
Anathemas against Barlaam and Acindynus. Barlaam was condemned by the Council of St. Sophia in 1341, and Acindynus by the Council of Blachernae in 1351:
Barlaam and Acindynus and
The following anathema is directed against Isaac Argyrus, a disciple of Nicephorus Gregoras. Apparently, he held many of the views condemned in anathemas 50-57. Argyrus was condemned by the council of 1351.
(58) Isaac Argyrus;
Various anathemas against ancient heresies and heretics:
Although this list of anathemas is quite lengthy, the Synodicon is full or praise for Orthodox doctine and its adherents. Historically, the Synodicon was read on the first Sunday of Lent for the instruction of the faithful.
843, religious events and
depicted on coins of the Roman Empire. The iconoclasts had
secular images only to appear on coins.
844 In the papal election this year, the populace in Rome supported the archdeacon John. The nobility gave their approval to Sergius II. While John defended himself in the Lateran, Sergius was consecrated in St. Peter’s without imperial approval. Sergius then protected John from the nobles, who wished to murder him. Later, John was imprisoned in a monastery.
Pope Sergius II (844-47) agreed to the Frankish emperor’s demand that he have the right to confirm papal elections and have a representative present at the consecration. The Roman (Byzantine) emperors had pursued a similar practice (see 604).
844 The kingdoms of the Picts and Scots were joined when Kenneth mac Alpin (McAlpine), king of the Scots, inherited the Pictish throne.
845St. Blaith, while attempting to re-establish the monastery on Iona, killed by Vikings.
845 Hamburg sacked by Danish pirates.
845 Bohemian lords presented themselves to King Louis the German (840-76) and asked to become Christian. Louis had them baptized.
the Vatican. They stripped the costly ornaments from the
graves of Peter and Paul.
847 Upon the election of Pope Leo IV (847-55) in this year, Louis (son of Lothair), king of Lombardy and emperor-designate, reasserted the imperial right to confirm the papal election.
847-61 The reign of the caliph al-Muttawakkil was marked by persecution of non-Muslims, forced conversions, and the destruction of churches and synagogues throughout the Abbasid Empire (centered in Baghdad).
848 The Synod of Mainz condemned Gottschalk of Orbais (803-868) for heresy. Gottschalk’s theology emphasized the Augustinian doctrine of predestination. Gottschalk was placed under the jurisdiction of archbishop Hincmar of Rheims [Reims] (806-882), who imprisoned him at Hautvillers abbey.
In a response to Gottschalk’s emphasis on predestination, Hincmar wrote “On God’s Predestination and Free Will” in which he denied predestination to hell. Hincmar and Gottschalk were also involved in a theological dispute over certain ways of referring to the Trinity which could imply polytheism.
Hincmar is the first person known to have doubted the authenticity of the Forged Decretals. (He had reason to – see 861.) These decretals appeared near the middle of the ninth century, purportedly from the pen of Isidore of Seville (see 633). Charlemagne had reorganized the church in his territories by strengthening the power of archbishops, and so improving imperial control. The bishops and lower clergy resented archiepiscopal and imperial interference. The decretals exaggerate the power of the papacy in order to diminish that of the archbishops. Many of the decretals are supposed letters from early popes.
849 Pope Leo IV (847-55) arranged an alliance among several Greek cities in Italy. Their combined fleet destroyed a Saracen fleet off Ostia.
~850 An anonymous Christian monk in Palestine wrote the Summa Theologiae Arabica, an apologetic work, written in Arabic, that castigated Christians who, in the interests of personal comfort and profit, downplayed the differences between Christianity and Islam to make the faith more palatable to the Muslims. He wrote, “By ‘There is no god but God’ they mean a god other than the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
850+ When Christians who had converted to Islam in Cordoba reversed themselves, they were put to death. Islam grew in strength in Spain until roughly 1050.
851 In November, a young woman named Flora was put to death in Spain for apostasy from Islam. The child of a Muslim father and Christian mother, Flora was raised a Christian after her father’s death. When she entered a nunnery, her Muslim brother found her and denounced her to the authorities.
851-58 In the time of the Coptic pope Cosmas II (851-858), the persecution of Christians was broadened to include the destruction of crosses and bells and the demolition or desecration of churches. Copts were forbidden to ride horses and required to dress in black. Copts were also dismissed from government service, but many were returned when the government found itself unable to maintain solvency without their assistance. During this period, many Copts converted to Islam.
852 Death of Aurelius and Sabigotho. The orphaned child of a Muslim father and a Christian mother, Aurelius was raised a Christian by his paternal aunt. When he was educated by Muslim relatives, he kept his faith a secret. He married a secretly Christian woman named Sabigotho, whose stepfather, a secret Christian, had converted the family. Aurelius and Sabigotho began to do works of mercy. When they visited a prison, they met Flora (see 881 above) who warned them that their end would be near when they met a foreign monk. Aurelius and Sabigotho sold their property and entered the monastery of Tabanos. There they met George, a Palestinian monk from the monastery of St. Saba. When they, with Aurelius’s relative Felix and his wife Liliosa, publicly denounced Islam, they and the monk George were executed.
852 The Leonine Wall. Under Pope Leo IV (847-55), the walls of Rome were extended to encircle Vatican hill. Leo wished to deter a repetition of the Saracen attack of 846. The wall was 40 feet high, 12 feet thick, and had 54 towers.
The Council of Quiercy stated that “God Almighty created him
righteous, without sin, and endowed with free will.” It
held that “God, the good and just, elected, on the basis of
those from the mass of perdition whom he by grace predestined to life.”
855 Louis II (855-75), son of Lothair, succeeded his father as emperor in Italy. Preoccupied with the Saracen threat in the Mediterranean, Louis lost his northern territories, which were taken by his brothers Lothair and Charles.
856 Death of Rabanus Maurus, Abbot of Fulda and Archbishop of Mainz. Maurus is generally thought to have authored the hymn Veni, Creator Spiritus.
856-62 Viking raids across northern France.
858 The Roman (Byzantine) emperor Michael III (842-67) led an army against the Paulicians (for their beliefs, see 719). The Paulicians had been fighting against the empire on behalf of the emirs of Melitene and Tarsus. Michael was attending Divine Liturgy at his encampment before Samosata when the Paulicians and Saracens attacked. The emperor and his minister Bardas escaped, but at least 100 important imperial officers were captured.
858 The Scottish king Kenneth mac Alpin buried at Iona. This would be the custom of Scottish kings for the next ~250 years.
858 The schism of Pope Nicholas (the Photian schism), 858-880. The patriarch Photios (Photius) of Constantinople began the redecoration of the churches. Photios had gone from layman to patriarch in a day (852), and this offended Pope Nicholas I (858-67). Photios’ promotion was motivated by the desire to replace Ignatios (Ignatius), then patriarch, who opposed the emperor’s removal of his mother to a convent. The emperor Michael III held a council (861) that confirmed Photios’ appointment, and the papal legates agreed to the decision. Nicholas, however, disagreed, held a rival council in Rome in 862, and excommunicated Photios.
Nicholas was the first bishop of Rome to make use of the Forged Decretals (see 863). These are a collection of ecclesiastical juridical acts compiled in the West at the beginning of the ninth century in the name of Isidore, an authoritative Spanish sacred minister. Since both the name of the compiler and the contents of the collection, as was established later on, were spurious, it has received the name of the “PseudoIsidorian Decretals.” The collection consists of three parts. In the first part, there are fifty Apostolic Canons and sixty decretals of the Roman popes. Of these sixty decretals, two are partly falsified, while fifty-eight are altogether spurious. In the second part, among other invented material, there is the spurious donation of the city of Rome by the Emperor Constantine the Great to the Roman Pope Silvester.
view, the decretals were
the Frankish feudal system, by giving a Roman administrator (the bishop
of Rome), among other things, a say in the election of bishops in the
In addition, by seating the bishop of Rome in Constantine’s chair, no
king could rule from Rome. (But see 749 above.)
859 The Saracens completed their conquest of Roman (Byzantine) Sicily with the fall of Enna in this year. The Roman (Byzantine) stronghold of Taormina held out until 1 August 902.
859 Death of Eulogius, author of Memoriale Sanctorum, a history of the Christian martyrs in Spain. Eulogius was executed by the Islamic authorities. His biography was written by Paul of Alvar, who had contested with Bodo (see 838 above).
860 The Rus, sailing in two hundred ships, mounted an attack upon Constantinople. They withdrew after the Virgin’s robe was processed around the walls of the city.
860 From their base in Melitene, the Paulicians under their leader Carbeas with their Saracen allies raided the Roman Empire, penetrating as far as the Black Sea coast.
860/1 The brothers Cyril and Methodius (see 862 below) sent on a mission to convert the Khazars. Unfortunately, the Khazars had already (during the 850s) converted to Judaism, becoming the “thirteenth tribe.” It is thought that the mission was also diplomatic in nature, designed to persuade the Khazars to attack the Rus. Already the Khazars had served a strategic purpose in blocking the advance of Islam through the Caucasus.
Muhammed al-Mudabbir became
of finance in Egypt. He tripled the jizya (protection money) due
from Christians and Jews. Many were unable to pay; consequently,
the prisons filled. Churches were looted and confiscated to raise
funds for the diwan (the Islamic treasury). Monks were
The Coptic patriarch of Alexandria, too impoverished to pay the taxes
of the church, went into hiding.
861 Responding to complaints over the behavior of John, archbishop of Ravenna, Pope Nicholas I summoned him to Rome. John argued that ancient precedents gave him immunity from this type of summons. Nicholas, in turn, excommunicated him. John acquiesced. As a result of the conflict, the archbishop’s authority was curtailed, and he swore allegiance to Rome.
861 Hincmar of Rheims deposed Rothad of Soissons. When Rothad appealed to the pope, Hincmar tried to stop him, citing Frankish law. Pope Nicholas decided the case in Rothad’s favor, arguing that no bishop could be deposed without papal permission. Hincmar attempted to thwart the pope, but Nicholas threatened to suspend him from celebrating the liturgy. Like John of Ravenna, Hincmar acquiesced. After Nicholas died, Hincmar again fought papal intrusions into local Frankish church affairs. (A letter supposedly by Zephyrinus, bishop of Rome (199-217), included in the Forged Decretals, contains the following: “For the trials of bishops and graver ecclesiastical cases, as the apostles and their holy successors have decreed, are to be finally decided … by the seat of the apostles, and by no other.”)
862 The Irishman John Scotus (called Erigena) translated the works of the Pseudo-Dionysius into Latin. John lived in the court of Charles the Bald, West Frankish king (840-77), and also translated works by St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Maximos the Confessor, and St. Epiphanios. Scotus wrote De praedestinatione in response to the ongoing dispute over predestination (see 848, 853), but his work was condemned by church authorities. Scotus is best known for his De divisione naturae, an attempt to harmonize Christian doctrine with neo-Platonic philosophy. To many, De divisione naturae appeared to have pantheistic implications.
862 Boris, Khan of the Bulgars, met with King Louis the German (840-76) along the Danube near Vienna, proposing an alliance against the Romans (Byzantines). Boris agreed to accept Christianity from the Franks.
862 To counter the encircling alliance of Franks and Bulgars (see 862 above), Ratislav, prince of Great Moravia (centered near modern Slovakia), requested that the Roman Emperor Michael III send him missionaries. Photios and the emperor chose the brothers Methodius (a monk ordained to the priesthood) and Constantine (a philosophy instructor at the University of Constantinople, who later took the name Cyril when he became a monk) to head the mission. German missionaries using a Latin liturgy had entered Great Moravia - see 822 and 831above. Cyril and Methodius were chosen because they spoke Slavic. Cyril had crafted a Slavonic alphabet and translated liturgical texts and parts of the scriptures into Slavonic.
The Roman (Byzantine) missionaries were persecuted by their Frankish (German) counterparts. The Franks claimed that there were only three legitimate languages of worship: Latin, Greek, and Hebrew - the three languages employed in the inscription on Christ’s cross. For this reason, Cyril referred to the Germans as Pilatians, in reference to the trilingual words on the cross at Calvary.
862-4 Sometime during this period, the Rus sent an embassy to Constantinople. The Rus ambassadors accepted Christianity.
863 Pope Nicholas I declared Patriarch Photios of Constantinople deposed. Nicholas quoted the Forged Decretals as canon law. He also claimed a supremacy over the old patriarchates - which was not accepted since it was contrary to the traditional view of papal primacy as delineated by the ecumenical councils. Eventually, this novel view of the papacy as a sort of regent contributed to the schism of the West from the Apostolic Sees of the East, and from the primitive discipline. In the view of some historians, Nicholas practically established the papacy as the office is now understood.
Roman forces defeated the
Saracens in Northern Anatolia.
864 In February, the Italian emperor Louis II (855-75) besieged Rome. His brother Lothair (king of Lorraine) had contracted a fruitless marriage with Theutberga, a daughter of the Duke of Burgundy. Lothair sought to divorce her (accusing her of incest), but she appealed to the pope, who ruled in her favor. Nicholas refused to back down to the emperor and his army, and Lothair acknowledged the legitimacy of his marriage to Theutberga.
864 The Franks invaded Moravia and compelled Ratislav to acknowledge their suzerainity. Since this strengthened the German missionaries’ hand, Cyril and Methodius travelled to Pannonia (866) and then to Rome (867-8) at the request of Pole Nicholas I.
864 In exchange for the lifting of a blockade, Boris, king of Bulgaria, agreed to accept Orthodoxy. Boris attempted to force baptism on his subjects, but they rebelled. To squelch this pagan rebellion, Boris had 52 boyars and their families executed.
865-76 Viking raids across eastern England.
Photios demanded that the
be subordinate to Constantinople. Boris refused and sent to Rome
and Germany for assistance. Pope Nicholas I sent a Latin mission
to Bulgaria in response, where they expelled Bishop Hermanrich of
and remained until 870. At one point Boris asked that the head of
the Roman delegation, Formosus, bishop of Porto and later Pope Formosus
(891-96) be appointed archbishop of Bulgaria. Since such an
would have violated canon law, Nicholas refused.
Side note: Bulgaria had been under Roman jurisdiction until the time of the Emperor Leo III (718-41), who placed it under the jurisdiction of Constantinople (see 732).
866(?) Nicholas I (858-867), bishop of Rome, stated that his sixth century predecessor, Vigilius, had confirmed all the decisions of the Fifth Ecumenical Council.
867 Patriarch Photios announced the conversion of the Rus. The extent of this conversion was likely overestimated.
867 While in Venice, Cyril and Methodius encountered a group of clerics who insisted the divine office could be celebrated in only three languages: Hebrew, Greek and Latin. In the autumn, Cyril and Methodius arrived in Rome, at the invitation of the pope. They presented Pope Hadrian II (867-72) with the relics of St. Clement, which they had acquired during their embassy to the Khazars (860/1). Hadrian placed them in the church of St. Clemente. Cyril and Methodius asked Hadrian’s permission to use a Slavonic liturgy. The pope, in a special bull, approved this request. He also ordained the Moravian and Pannonian priests whom the brothers had trained. Hadrian also planned to appoint a bishop for the Slavs who would be independent of German (Salzburg and Passau) influence. It is likely that he initially had Cyril in view for this post.
867 A synod met at Constantinople. It anathematized the Western doctrine of the Procession of the Spirit from the Father and the Son (filioque) and the practice of clerical celibacy, “from which usage we see in the West many children who do not know their fathers.” The synod excommunicated Nicholas I. Photios was deposed soon thereafter for offending the new emperor, Basil the Macedonian, but was soon restored (879) and recognized by Pope John VIII (872-82).
sent an encyclical to
the East in which he accused the Pope (1) of inserting the word “filioque”
into the Creed; (2) of intervening in the newly founded Church of
by repeating the chrismation of the Bulgarian Christians on the pretext
that they had previously been baptized by married priests from
(3) of dominating the churches of the West; and (4) of interfering in
outside his own jurisdiction.
867 Death of Nicholas I, bishop of Rome. The the papacy entered a period of decline.
867 Vikings raided York.
867-68 An embassy arrived in Constantinople from the Frankish emperor Louis II. The expedition’s goal was to arrange an alliance by marriage between the Franks and the Romans emperor Basil I (867-86). The unsuccessful embassy was led by the papal librarian, Anastasius (~810-78), who had opposed Photios over the filioque. Anastasius remained in Constantinople and attended the council of 869-70. Anastasius the librarian translated the works of Patriarch Nicephorus into Latin (see 817 above), and wrote a commentary on the works of Pseudo-Dionysius.
867/68 The Paulician leader John Chrysocheir, Carbeas’s nephew, led a raid into the empire as far as Smyrna. The emperor Basil I sent an embassy under Peter the Sicilian to Chrysocheir to ransom captives and to offer an alliance. Chrysocheir reported responded by saying, “Let the emperor, if he desires peace, abdicate the East and retire to rule in the West. If he refuses, the servants of the Lord will drive him from the throne.” Peter learned that the Paulicians in Melitene were in contact with their counterparts in Thrace (see 746).
867-74 The Serbs converted to Christianity.
868 Death of the West Frankish Benedictine monk Ratramnus. He had entered into controversy with his abbot, Paschasius Radbertus of Corbie, over the nature of the bread and wine in the eucharist. Ratramnus anticipated the Reformation in holding an interpretation of Christ’s presence as symbolic. His De corpore was ordered destroyed by the Council of Vercelli in 1050; and it was condemned at the Lateran Synod in 1059.
Ratramnus also argued against Hincmar in favor of predestination to salvation; but he was himself opposed to the doctrine of predestination to damnation. He also wrote “Against Greek Opposition” on the filioque controversy. In another controversy with Radbertus, Ratramnus argued that Christ’s birth was natural. The more common view was that Mary remained a virgin throughout the process of childbirth.
Death of Cyril. Pope Adrian II (867-72)
Methodius bishop of all Slavonic churches in Moravia and Pannonia with
the title of archbishop of Sirmium.
869 Hincmar of Rheims crowned Charles the Bald Frankish emperor, over the objections of Pope Adrian II.
869 Emperor Basil I convened a synod (called the Eighth Ecumenical Council by the Latins), and by coercion brought the bishops to condemn Photios. Pope Adrian II's delegates and Basil forcibly obtained their acknowledgment that the pope is the “supreme and absolute head of all the Churches, superior even to ecumenical synods.”
It was at this council that the Roman church finally accepted the decree from the council of 381 that Constantinople should have second rank, behind Rome (canon 21 of the so-called Eighth Ecumenical Council).
869 Muslims from Carmargue, Spain made a razzia (a raid to capture slaves) to Valence, France.
870-930 Iceland settled from Norway.
870 At a special session of the council that met on March 4, Bulgaria was placed under the jurisdiction of Conastantinople. Boris expelled the Latin clergy from his country. Although Ignatios was restored by the council of 869, he betrayed his Roman supporters by consecrating an archbishop for Bulgaria and sending Orthodox missionaries there. Bulgaria received an independent archbishopric.
In about this year Peter of Sicily, working for the patriarch of Constantinople, sent a letter to the archbishop of Bulgaria to warn him that the Paulicians (see 719) meant to send missionaries into his country.
870 Return of Methodius to the Slavic mission field. When he returned to Morravia, Methodius was arrested, tried at Regensburg, and imprisoned by the Franks for two and one-half years. Hermanrich, bishop of Passau, attempted to have at him with a horsewhip. Methodius was eventually released at the insistence of Pope John VIII (872-82) in May 873 and he returned to the Moravian mission field.
(The Conversion of the Bavarians and Carantanians) written in
about this year. It argued for German rights in the Slav mission
field, against east Roman interlopers such as Cyril and Methodius.
870 The Saracens conquered Malta.
Alfred the Great, a warrior
king of the West Saxons.
871 In February, working in league with a Roman (Byzantine) fleet, the Italian emperor Louis II (855-75) took Bari, the Saracens’ headquarters on mainland Italy.
871 In August, Adelchis, duke of Benevento, took the Italian emperor Louis II (855-75) prisoner. Adelchis was concerned that the emperor would deprive him of his independence, so he forced Louis to promise not to re-enter the southern portion of the peninsula. Pope Adrian II (867-72) dispensed Louis from his oath.
The Roman emperor Basil I
Asia Minor under his son-in-law Christopher to deal with the
They were a heretical sect believing in two co-eternal principles (good
and evil), rejecting the Old Testament, denying the Incarnation, and
matter to have been created by the evil principle (see 719).
under their leader Chrysocheir had defeated Basil at Tephrice in
Christopher caught Chrysocheir’s forces at Bathyrrhyax at the foot of
Zogoloenus as they were returning from a raid on the center of Asia
heavily loaded with booty. The Paulician forces were crushed, and
Chrysocheir himself was slain by a Greek he had captured in 870.
In December, John VIII
(872-882) succeeded Adrian II to the
papacy. John was particularly concerned
with uniting Italy against the Saracen threat.
872 The Italian emperor Louis II (855-75) defeated a Saracen force at Capua.
873 The duke of Benevento rebelled against the Italian emperor Louis II (855-75) and placed himself and his territories under the protection of the Roman (Byzantine) emperor Basil I (867-86).
874 Pannonia annexed by the east Franks. German missionaries in Moravia and Pannonia opposed the use of Slavonic in the liturgy and accused Methodius of heresy.
Patriarch Ignatios of Constantinople sent a
875 On the death of the Frankish emperor Louis II, Pope John VIII crowned Charles II the Bald of France emperor. From this year, Pope John VIII strengthened Rome’s fortifications against Saracen attack. He also stood up the papal navy.
876 The Roman Empire began the re-conquest of southern Italy from the Saracens.
Viking raiders forced the
in Rouen to abandon their monastery.
876 When Pope John VIII (872-82) appointed a papal legate for Germany and Gaul, Hincmar, bishop of Rheims, opposed him vigorously. Hincmar viewed the action as an intrusion on his rights as archbishop.
Pope John VIII deposed and excommunicated
Formosus, the cardinal bishop of Porto. Formosus
later became pope (see 891).
877 At some point after this year, the Vetus Synodicon, a collection of summaries of church councils, was prepared. The synodicon is the source of the legend that the First Council of Nicaea determined the canon of scripture. Those attending the council supposedly placed a collection of works near the church altar, prayed, and found the approved scripture atop the altar, with the rejected books beneath.
878 Prince Zdeslav of Croatia acknowledged the sovereignty of Constantinople. However, he was assassinated by a strong pro-papal party the following year, and Croatia fell under the influence of Rome thereafter. Branimir, Croatia’s new leader, swore to keep his nation loyal to the pope.
878 The Aghlabids (Saracens) captured Syracuse, defeating its Roman (Byzantine) defenders. Thousands of the inhabitants were killed during and after the nine-month seige. Few escaped alive. Syracuse was pillaged and destroyed.
879-80 In 879, the emperor Basil restored Photios as patriarch of Constantinople. In November, a council met in Constantinople. It is sometimes recognized as the Eighth Ecumenical Council by Orthodox Christians. The council reaffirmed the creed of A.D. 381 and declared any and all additions to the creed invalid. It also placed Bulgaria formally under the jurisdiction of Constantinople. Rome and Constantinople, apparently, agreed not to interfere in the internal affairs of the other. This council’s teaching was affirmed by the patriarchs Constantinople (Photios), Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria and by Emperor Basil I. Three hundred and eighty-three bishops attended. Pope John VIII (872-882) recognized Photios as patriarch. John VIII is believed by some to have simultaneously accepted the council’s teaching that no one should add to the creed and maintained that the filioque, as a doctrine, is true. However, both Photios and a letter from John VIII to Photios indicate that the bishop of Rome believed the filioque to be false. Many believe that John VIII was unwilling to publicly denounce the filioque because he was fearful of Frankish military retaliation.
In a private letter to Patriarch Photios (858-867, 877-886), Pope John VIII assured his colleague that the Filioque was never added to the Creed in Rome (as had been done by the Franks when they feudalized Northern Italy), that it was a heresy, but that the question should be handled with great caution... “so that we will not be forced to allow the addition...” This papal letter was added at the end of the minutes of the Synod and explains why the Synod did not name the heretics who were condemned.
The schism finally occurred in 1054, but only after the church in Rome had accepted the filioque into their liturgy in 1014.
Photios on the filioque: “Everything, therefore, which is seen and spoken of in the all-holy and consubstantial and coessential Trinity, is either common to all, or belongs to one only of the three: but the projection of the Spirit, is neither common, nor, as they say, does it belong to any one of them alone (may propitiation be upon us, and the blasphemy turned upon their heads). Therefore, the projection of the Spirit is not at all in the life-giving and all-perfect Trinity.” And: “For otherwise, if all things common to the Father and the Son, are in any case common to the Spirit, …and the procession from them is common to the Father and the Son, the Spirit therefore will then proceed from himself: and He will be principle of himself, and both cause and caused: a thing which even the myths of the Greeks never fabricated.”
880 Pope John VIII (872-82) appointed a German priest named Wiching bishop of Nitra, over Methodius’ objections.
a letter to Svatopluk,
Ratislav’s nephew and successor
of Moravia, Pope John VIII (872-82) stated, “It is certainly not
doctrine to sing the mass in the Slavonic language, or to read the Holy
Gospel or the divine lessons of the New and Old Testaments well
and interpreted, or to chant the other offices of the hours, for He who
made the three principal languages, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, also
all the others for His own praise and glory.” However, John
a temporary ban on the Slavonic liturgy.
881 Pope John VIII (872-82) crowned Charles III the Fat, king of the Franks, emperor.
882 Pope John VIII was brutally beaten to death by members of his own entourage.
883 Pope Marinus I (882-84) restored Formosus to the bishopric of Porto.
~884 The Coptic pope Kha’il II (880-907) was imprisoned by the Egyptian governor, Ahmad ibn Tulan (868-884), who suspected the pope was hiding riches. The governor finally freed the pope, but forced him to raise 10,000 dinars within one month, and a further 10,000 dinars within four months, as ransom. As Ahmad ibn Tulan was killed in battle, the second installment was not paid.
885 Death of Methodius. Bishop Wiching of Nitra convinced Svatopluk, lord of Moravia, to expel Methodius’ disciples from his territory. The German priests with their Latin liturgy thus prevailed in Moravia.
885 Basil I established the peninsula of Mount Athos as a place of hesychia in this year. The origins of the monasticism on Athos are unclear. There were hermits on the peninsula from the seventh century, having fled the Arab conquest of the Middle East, including Egypt. Some sources date monasticism on Mount Athos to the reign of Constantine the Great and his mother, Saint Helen. The first monastery was established on Athos in 962/63.
Before Basil I’s death in 886, the Narentani accepted Christianity. Pirates, they had been a threat to shipping in the Adriatic earlier in the ninth century. The Narentani, known as Pagani to the inhabitants of the Roman cities on the coast of Dalmatia, were the last tribe in the northwestern Balkans to convert to Christianity.
886 Due to continuing German persecution and Methodius’s death (see 885), most of the Slavic clergy in Moravia and Pannonia removed to Constantinople. At the invitation of King Boris of Bulgaria, Clement and Naum, of Ohrid in Macedonia, later established a Slavonic academy in Ohrid, which served as an engine for the conversion of the Slavic peoples. Clement reportedly had 3500 pupils, many of whom became priests. King Boris of Bulgaria assisted with the establishment of the academy at Ohrid, and with others at Preslav and Pliska.
Some of Cyril and Methodius’s disciples in Moravia were not so fortunate. An envoy of the Roman Emperor Basil I, on a visit to Venice, observed a group of them being sold as slaves by Jewish merchants. The Moravians had sold them into slavery as heretics. The envoy purchased their freedom and sent them to Constantinople.
886 Leo VI, known as Leo the Wise or Leo the Philosopher, Roman (Byzantine) Emperor (886-912). Leo had been educated by Patriarch Photios. He produced a code of laws that became the legal code for the empire, novels dealing with secular and ecclesiastical problems, liturgical poems, poetry and military treatises.
889 The Magyars invaded Bessarabia and Moldavia.
The first reference to the
use of a
a waterwheel. It was being used at the monastery of St. Gall in
to make beer for the monks. The cam was key to the wealth of
in the Middle Ages, particularly for the Cistercians.
891 Upon the death of Pope Stephen V (885-91), Formosus I (891-96) was elected to the papacy.
893 After a pagan rebellion had been put down, a Bulgarian assembly moved the capital from Preslav (where the pagan influence was still strong) to Preslav. It also established Slavonic as the official language, replacing Greek.
894 Two Greek merchants were granted a monopoly over trade between the empire and Bulgaria. Their transfer of the market from Constantinople to Thessalonika led to the wars between the Bulgars and Romans of the early tenth century. The market’s relocation had an adverse effect on the towns along the route south to Constantinople.
895 The earliest extant copy of the Masoretic text - the Cairo Codex of the Prophets - dates from about this year.
Seeking assistance against
two Bohemian lords sought German aid at Regensburg, acknowledging the
king as overlord.
896 To liberate Rome from the control of the Spoletan Holy Roman emperors Guy and Lambert, Pope Formosus allied himself with Arnulf, king of the East Franks. Arnulf subsequently invaded Italy, but died before attacking Spoleto.
March, the Synod
horrenda (also known as the “Cadaver Synod”) sat
in judgement on the corpse of Pope Formosus (891-96), who had died
eight months earlier. The corpse was dressed in its robes of
and sat upon the papal throne. The accusation against Formosus
that he had transferred seats – become the bishop of Rome while bishop
of another diocese, contrary to canon law – but his real crime was
one of Charlemagne’s descendants in favor of another. Soon after
the trial, Rome was shaken by an earthquake, which was taken as an evil
omen. Stephen VII (896-97) was strangled. Seven popes and
contended for the bishopric of Rome over the next few years. The
chaos ended when Cardinal Sergius, an affiliate of Stephen, gained the
papacy with the military backing of a feudal lord.
897 Pope Stephen VI (896-97) was murdered by strangulation.
898 In January, John IX (898-900) was consecrated pope in Rome. John held synods that overturned the Synod horrenda and rehabilitated Formosus. He also confirmed the Frankish emperor Lothair I’s Constitutio Romana which required the presence of an imperial representative at papal consecrations.
899 The Magyars sacked Pavia in northern Italy, massacring the inhabitants and torching 43 churches.
The Magyars raided Bavaria.
900 Benedict IV became pope (900-903). In June, he excommunicated the count of Flanders, Baldwin II, for his involvement in the assassination of Fulk, archbishop of Rheims.