Church and Monastic Organisation

  • John Haldon


Between the 650s and the middle of the eighth century the territory of the see of Constantinople was subject to the same threats and to the same losses as the secular state. The provincial infrastructure of the church in particular was jeopardised in many of these areas, for the constant raids and invasions, and the economic damage which was caused, brought about in many outlying areas the flight of the local clergy to safer regions. This was an issue addressed in the so-called Quinisext Council (or Council in Trullo, because it convened in the domed hall of the imperial palace) held in 692, when a number of matters relating to church discipline and the fate of the exposed provincial dioceses were debated. At the Council of Constantinople held in 680 the total of bishops who attended numbered 174; at the Quinisext in 692 the total was 211, although not all were present at both, so that the total is somewhat larger. By the council held at Nikaia in 787, the number of attending bishops rises to 319, a result partly of the stabilisation of the internal political situation and a more secure travelling environment, partly of the creation of new bishoprics to compensate for lost sees now under enemy authority, especially in the east. The archbishops of Alexandria, Jerusalem and Antioch continued to send representatives, of course, and they continued to manage their own ecclesiastical administration, following the original pattern of dioceses. Continued internal stability, and the beginnings of political and territorial expansion in the later ninth century, brought a new phase of expansion to the Constantinopolitan church. At councils held at Constantinople in 869 and 879 the number of sees has increased again, especially in the Balkans, and by the time of the patriarchate of Nicholas I in the years 901–907, an episcopal list enumerates some 442 sees in Asia Minor, 139 in the Balkans, as well as 34 in southern Italy and Sicily and 22 in the Aegean region.


Ninth Century Eleventh Century Eighth Century Monastic Community Imperial Palace 
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© John Haldon 2005

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  • John Haldon

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