Volume 3 Number 4
|The 4-volume electronic edition of God, History, & Dialectic by Dr. Joseph P. Farrell is now available at filioque.com.|
The 3rd century: The Roman Empire divided into an Eastern and Western Roman Empire with separate Emperors.
The 4th century: Emperor St.Constantine reunites the divided Roman Empire and moves (330) the capital of the Roman Empire for the second time in Roman history. No longer is the capital the city of Rome, in the Western part of the empire, now Italy, but it becomes Constantinople (the ancient Greek city of Byzantium) in the Eastern part of the empire. After St. Constantine’s death, the Empire is again divided into East and West, with separate emperors.
The 5th century: The Western Roman Empire and its emperor fall to the barbarians. The Eastern Roman Empire continues under the emperor in Byzantium. Western historians, preferring to see the Western Roman Empire as the sole Roman empire, would come to call the Eastern Roman Empire the “Byzantine Empire”. It is, however, treated as the Roman Empire by the Popes of Rome for centuries, and its inhabitants would call themselves Romans for another millennia.
The 9th century: Charlemagne, consolidating the power of the Franks, heirs of the barbarians who brought down the Western Roman Empire, pretends to a reconstituted “Holy Roman Empire” in the West. He receives a coronation from a virtually captive Pope in 800, but Pope Leo III crowns Charlemagne not Emperor of Rome, but “of the Romans”, a title Charlemagne can never claim as long as the Eastern Roman Empire exists. This century, with the Franks under Charlemagne altering the ancient Nicene Creed, and with the publication of The Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit by St. Photius the Great, Patriarch of Constantinople, marks a high point in the beginnings of schism between the Christians in communion with the See of Rome (in the city of Rome in the West) and those in communion with the Eastern sees worldwide.
The 11th century: The Franks install the first Frankish pope, who promptly commands the use of the altered Creed (1014), and results in the removal of the Bishop in the See of Rome from the dyptichs in the East (the prayers that venerate Christian Bishops as such). The legates of the Pope “excommunicate” the Churches of the East and, for both sides, the process of schism is essentially formalized. The Romans in Byzantium, after the Great Schism, would continue to call themselves Roman Catholics (now called Eastern Orthodox) and refer to today’s Roman Catholics as the heretical Frankish Church.
The 15th century: The Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) falls with Constantinople (now Istanbul) to the Turks (1453).
John Scotus Eriugena: Western Neoplatonist philosopher. He works out a dialectical system that would form a theological support for developments in Western Christianity. Influenced strongly by St. Augustine. Nonetheless, he had a fealty to Eastern (Orthodox) theology, finding support for this in Greek patristics.
Emperor Michael III: “The Drunkard”. Roman/Byzantine Emperor. Son of Theodora.
Vardas: (Bardas Mamikonian): Brother of Theodora and Uncle of Michael III. Regent and de facto ruler of Byzantium under Michael III. Made Co-Emperor or Caesar (Kaiser).
St. Theodora: Mother of Michael III and Regent of the empire during his youth. Sister of Vardas. According to the Wikipedia, “In order to perpetuate her power she purposely neglected her son's education, and therefore must be held responsible for the voluptuous character which he developed under the influence of his uncle Bardas [Vardas]. Theodora endeavoured in vain to combat Bardas's authority; in 855 she was displaced from her regency at his prompting, and being subsequently convicted of intrigues against him was relegated to a monastery.” Not the Empress Theodora Augusta of the 6th century, nor Empress Theodora of the 3rd century or of the 11th.
Basil I: “The Macedonian”. Friend and bodyguard of Emperor Michael III. Murdered Caesar Bardas by his own hand in 866, with the consent of Michael. Had Michael murdered the following year, and became Emperor.
Charlemagne: (Karl/Charles the Great): King of the Franks 771-814. Attempted to consolidate his power by reconstructing a Western Roman Empire (the “Holy Roman Empire”). Monks in Charlemagne’s court are credited with altering the Nicene Creed, the ancient Symbol of the Faith for Christians, and thereby positioning, on behalf of Charlemagne, the Roman See in the West (dependent on Charlemagne’s graces as protector of the city) against the Eastern Roman Empire and its many sees.
Pope Leo III: Bishop and Patriarch of Rome. Caught between the horns of Charlemagne’s Frankish empire (the reconstructed “Holy Roman Empire” in the West) and its theological innovation, and the Byzantine Empire (The Roman Empire in the East) and its fidelity to tradition. Not Emperor Leo III “the Isaurian”.
Vardas weaves an intricate series of plots against the current emperor Nicephorus I, the spies of Charlemagne, King of the Franks, and Pope Leo III who are in a stand-off over rival missions to Bulgaria which will eventually locate in the Frankish Church's alteration of the Nicene creed the defining point of contention. In so doing, he plots also against Theodora to have her lover emasculated, to dominate her son Michael III, and to somehow dismiss the Patriarch Ignatius.
Theodora reacts to Vardas' designs after the emasculation of her lover.
Charlemagne fumes hatred for Pope Leo for betraying him by crowning him not "Emperor of Rome" as agreed but the ineffectual "Emperor of the Romans", assigning him rulership over a people (his own, according to Frankish rhetoric) rather than a place (essentially the Roman world). He speaks to Smaragdus, a Frankish monk who kept the minutes of conversations between Charlemagne's apocrisari and Pope Leo.
Speaking to the reposed Pope St. Benedict II, Pope Leo ruminates on his position, caught between "two emperors", Christ and Charlemagne, as Pope of Rome and exile to Charlemagne's court. He discusses the Frankish alterations to the Creed and his betrayal of Charlemagne during the coronation.
To the Frankish delegation, including the monk Smaragdus who is keeping the minutes, Pope Leo criticizes the Frankish use of dialectic to alter the Church's theology, and says that his answer to Charlemagne must be a refusal to alter the Creed confirmed by the infallible ecumenical councils of the Church.
Vardas rages against Theodora who has publicly punished him for his debauchery. He makes plans to regain power and punish his enemies at court. He accuses Theodora of hypocrisy over the iconoclastic controversy. He plots to steal Theodora's son, the emperor Michael, from her influence, and turn him into a debauched youth. He mocks the Donation of Constantine, a forged document used to justify the development of doctrine and so eventually the alteration to the Creed.
The philosopher speaks to the Council of Bishops in Rheims who are inventing new doctrines, and vows fidelity to the tradition as received from the East ("The Greeks").
Basil I plots the murder of Vardas.
The epitaph to the murdered Vardas, ruling once over the glorious Empire, now ruling worms and decay.