- A term invented by 19th-century western European scholars to describe how the Byzantine emperor (q.v.) allegedly acted as both "caesar" (i.e., emperor) and pope (qq.v.). The term infers that, in effect, the Byzantine church was under the control of the state and that emperors could decide matters of church doctrine. This needs much qualification, but at its core is a conceptual truth, namely, how difficult it was for Byzantines to separate their church from the emperor. Emperors were conceived of as God's representatives on earth, with a duty to defend the faith and watch over the church. In practice, this often resulted in emperors appointing patriarchs (qq.v.), or forcing them to abdicate, calling church councils and occasionally confiscating church property. Nevertheless, few emperors attempted to pronounce on dogma, as did Justinian I (q.v.), and Justinian I was forced to call the Fifth Ecumenical Council to validate his Three Chapters (qq.v). Even Iconoclast (q.v.) emperors used church councils for this purpose. Emperors who defied the church at large, as happened at the Council of Lyons (q.v.) in 1274, and at the Council of Ferrara-Florence (q.v.) in 1438-1439, when the Byzantine church was subjected to the papacy (q.v.) for reasons of political expediency, faced popular opposition from both laity and clergy. If used at all, the term needs qualification, depending on the particular emperor and on the particular area of church-state relations.
Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . John H. Rosser .
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