Dissension And Separation Of The Greek And Roman Churches
Author: Tozer, Henry Fanshawe

Dissension And Separation Of The Greek And Roman Churches


The Eastern or Greek Christian Church, now known as the Holy Orthodox,
Catholic, Apostolic, Oriental Church, first assumed individuality at Ephesus,
and in the catechetical school of Alexandria, which flourished after A.D. 180.
It early came into conflict with the Western or Roman Church: "the Eastern
Church enacting creeds, and the Western Church discipline."

In the third century, Dionysius, Bishop of Rome, accused the Patriarch of
Alexandria of error in points of faith, but the Patriarch vindicated his
orthodoxy. Eastern monachism arose about 300; the Church of Armenia was
founded about the same year; and the Church of Georgia or Iberia in 340.

Constantine the Great caused Christianity to be recognized throughout the
Roman Empire, and in 325 convened the first ecumenical or general Council at
Nicaea (Nice), when Arius, excommunicated for heresy by a provincial synod at
Alexandria in 321, defended his views, but was condemned. The council decreed
the consubstantiality of the Son of God, and composed the Nicene Creed. The
Arian heresy, always condemned by the Roman Church, contended that the Son is
of a nature similar to, but not the same as, the Father, being subordinate.
It long maintained a theological and political importance in the East and
among the Goths and other nations converted by Arian missionaries. In A.D.
330, Constantine removed the capital of the Roman Empire to Constantinople,
and thence dates the definite establishment of the Greek Church and the
serious rivalry with the Roman Church over claims of preeminence, differences
of doctrine and ritual, charges of heresy and inter-excommunications, which
ended in the final separation of the churches in 1054.

In A.D. 461, the churches of Egypt, Syria, and Armenia separated from the
Church of Constantinople, over the Monophysite controversy on the single
divine or single compound nature of the Son; in 634 the struggle with
Mahometanism began; in 676 the Maronites of Lebanon formed a strong sect
which, in 1182, joined the Roman Church. In 988, Vladimir the Great of Russia
founded the Graeco-Russian Church, in which the Greek Church found a refuge,
when Mahometanism was established at Constantinople, after its capture by the
Turks in 1453.

The separation of the Eastern and Western churches, which finally took
place in the year 1054, was due to the operation of influences which had been
at work for several centuries before. From very early times a tendency to
divergence existed, arising from the tone of thought of the dominant races in
the two, the more speculative Greeks being chiefly occupied with purely
theological questions, while the more practical Roman mind devoted itself
rather to subjects connected with the nature and destiny of man. In
differences such as these there was nothing irreconcilable: the members of
both communions professed the same forms of belief, rested their faith on the
same divine persons, were guided by the same standard of morals, and were
animated by the same hopes and fears; and they were bound by the first
principles of their religion to maintain unity with one another. But in
societies, as in individuals, inherent diversity of character is liable to be
intensified by time, and thus counteracts the natural bonds of sympathy, and
prevents the two sides from seeing one another's point of view. In this way
it cooperates with and aggravates the force of other causes of disunion, which
adverse circumstances may generate. Such causes there were in the present
instance, political, ecclesiastical, and theological; and the nature of these
it may be well for us to consider, before proceeding to narrate the history of
the disruption.

The office of bishop of Rome assumed to some extent a political character
as early as the time of the first Christian emperors. By them this prelate
was constituted a sort of secretary of state for Christian affairs, and was
employed as a central authority for communicating with the bishops in the
provinces, so that after a while he acted as minister of religion and public
instruction. As the civil and military power of the Western Empire declined,
the extent of this authority increased; and by the time when Italy was annexed
to the Empire of the East, in the reign of Justinian, the popes had become the
political chiefs of Roman society. Nominally, indeed, they were subject to
the exarch of Ravenna, as vicegerent of the Emperor at Constantinople, but in
reality the inhabitants of Western Europe were more disposed to look to the
spiritual potentate in the Imperial city as representing the traditions of
ancient Rome. The political rivalry that was thus engendered was sharpened by
the traditional jealousy of Rome and Constantinople, which had existed ever
since the new capital had been erected on the shores of the Bosporus. Then
followed struggles for administrative superiority between the popes and the
exarchs, culminating in the shameful maltreatment and banishment of Martin I
by the emperor Constans - an event which the See of Rome could never forget.

The attempt to enforce iconoclasm in Central Italy was influential in
causing the loss of that province to the Empire; and even after the Byzantine
rule had ceased there, the controversy about images tended to keep alive the
antagonism, because, although that question was once and again settled in
favor of the maintenance of images, yet many of the emperors, in whose persons
the power of the East was embodied, were foremost in advocating their
destruction. Indeed, from first to last, owing to the close connection of
church and state in the Byzantine empire, the unpopularity of the latter in
Western Europe was shared by the former. To this must be added the contempt
for one another's character which had arisen among the adherents of the two
churches, for the Easterns had learned to regard the people of the West as
ignorant and barbarous, and were esteemed by them in turn as mendacious and

In ecclesiastical matters also the differences were of long standing.
These related to questions of jurisdiction between the two patriarchates. Up
to the eighth century, the patriarchate of the West included a number of
provinces on the eastern side of the Adriatic-Illyricum, Dacia, Macedonia, and
Greece. But Leo the Isaurian, who probably foresaw that Italy would ere long
cease to form part of his dominions, and was unwilling that these important
territories should own spiritual allegiance to one who was not his subject,
altered this arrangement, and transferred the jurisdiction over them to the
Patriarch of Constantinople. Against this measure the bishops of Rome did not
fail to protest, and demands for their restoration were made up to the time of
the final schism. A further ecclesiastical question, which in part depended
on this, was that of the Church of the Bulgarians. The prince Bogoris had
swayed to and fro in his inclinations between the two churches, and had
ultimately given his allegiance to that of the East; but the controversy did
not end there. According to the ancient territorial arrangement the Danubian
provinces were made subject to the archbishopric of Thessalonica, and that
city was included within the Western patriarchate; and on this ground Bulgaria
was claimed by the Roman see as falling within that area. The matter was
several times pressed on the attention of the Greek Church, especially on the
occasion of the council held at Constantinople in 879, but in vain. The
Eastern prelates replied evasively, saying that to determine the boundaries of
dioceses was a matter which belonged to the sovereign. The Emperor, for his
part, had good reason for not yielding, for by so doing he would not only have
admitted into a neighboring country an agency which would soon have been
employed for political purposes to his disadvantage, but would have justified
the assumption on which the demand rested, viz., that the pope had a right to
claim the provinces which his predecessors had lost. Thus this point of
difference also remained open, as a source of irritation between the two

But behind these questions another of far greater magnitude was coming
into view, that of the papal supremacy. From being in the first instance the
head of the Christian church in the old Imperial city, and afterward Patriarch
of the West, and primus inter pares in relation to the other spiritual heads
of Christendom, the bishop of Rome had gradually claimed, on the strength of
his occupying the cathedra Petri, a position which approximated more and more
to that of supremacy over the whole Church. This claim had never been
admitted in the East, but the appeals which were made from Constantinople to
his judgment and authority, both at the time of the iconoclastic controversy
and subsequently, lent some countenance to its validity.

But the great advance was made in the pontificate of Nicholas I
(858-867), who promulgated, or at least recognized, the False Decretals. This
famous compilation, which is now universally acknowledged to be spurious, and
can be shown to be the work of that period, contains, among other documents,
letters and decrees of the early bishops of Rome, in which the organization
and discipline of the Church from the earliest time are set forth, and the
whole system is shown to have depended on the supremacy of the popes. The
newly discovered collection was recognized as genuine by Nicholas, and was
accepted by the Western Church. The effect of this was at once to formulate
all the claims which had before been vaguely asserted, and to give them the
authority of unbroken tradition. The result to Christendom at large was in
the highest degree momentous. It was impossible for future popes to recede
from them, and equally impossible for other churches which valued their
independence to acknowledge them. The last attempt on the part of the Eastern
Church to arrange a compromise in this matter was made by the emperor Basil
II, a potentate who both by his conquests and the vigor of his administration
might rightly claim to negotiate with others on equal terms. By him it was
proposed (A.D. 1024) that the Eastern Church should recognize the honorary
primacy of the Western patriarch, and that he in turn should acknowledge the
internal independence of the Eastern Church. These terms were rejected, and
from that moment it was clear that the separation of the two branches of
Christendom was only a question of time.

Already in the papacy of Nicholas I a rupture had occurred in connection
with the dispute between the rival patriarchs of Constantinople, Ignatius and
Photius. The former of these prelates, who was son of the emperor Michael I,
and a man of high character and a devout opponent of iconoclasm, was
appointed, through the influence of Theodora, the restorer of images, in the
reign of her son, Michael the Drunkard. But the uncle of the Emperor, the
Caesar Bardas, who was a man of flagrantly immoral life, had divorced his own
wife, and was living publicly with his son's widow. For this incestuous
connection Ignatius repelled him from the communion. Fired with indignation
at this insult, the Caesar determined to ruin both the Patriarch and his
patroness, the Empress-mother, and with this view persuaded the Emperor to
free himself from the trammels of his mother's influence by forcing her to
take monastic vows. To this step Ignatius would not consent, because it was
forbidden by the laws of the Church that any should enter on the monastic life
except of their own free will. In consequence of his resistance a charge of
treasonable correspondence was invented against him, and when he refused to
resign his office he was deposed (857). Photius, who was chosen to succeed
him, was the most learned man of his age, and like his rival, unblemished in
character and a supporter of images, but boundless in ambition. He was a
layman at the time of his appointment, but in six days he passed through the
inferior orders which led up to the patriarchate. Still, the party that
remained faithful to Ignatius numbered many adherents, and therefore Photius
thought it well to enlist the support of the Bishop of Rome on his side. An
embassy was therefore sent to inform Pope Nicholas that the late Patriarch had
voluntarily retired, and that Photius had been lawfully chosen, and had
undertaken the office with great reluctance. In answer to this appeal the Pope
despatched two legates to Constantinople, and Ignatius was summoned to appear
before a council at which they were present. He was condemned, but appealed
to the Pope in person.

On the return of the legates to Rome it was discovered that they had
received bribes, and thereupon Nicholas, whose judgment, however imperious,
was ever on the side of the oppressed, called together a synod of the Roman
Church, and refused his consent to the deposition of Ignatius. To this effect
he wrote to the authorities of the Eastern Church, calling upon them at the
same time to concur in the decrees of the apostolic see; but subsequently,
having obtained full information as to the harsh treatment to which the
deposed Patriarch had been subjected, he excommunicated Photius, and commanded
the restoration of Ignatius "by the power committed to him by Christ through
St. Peter."

These denunciations produced no effect on the Emperor and the new
Patriarch, and a correspondence between Michael and Nicholas, couched in
violent language, continued at intervals for several years. At last, in
consequence of a renewed demand on the part of the Pope that Ignatius and
Photius should be sent to Rome for judgment, the latter prelate, whose ability
and eloquence had obtained great influence for him, summoned a council at
Constantinople in the year 867, to decree the counter-excommunication of the
Western Patriarch. Of the eight articles which were drawn up on this occasion
for the incrimination of the Church of Rome, all but two relate to trivial
matters, such as the observance of Saturday as a fast, and the shaving of
their beards by the clergy. The two important ones deal with the doctrine of
the Procession of the Holy Spirit, and the enforced celibacy of the clergy.

The condemnation of the Western Church on these grounds was voted, and a
messenger was despatched to bear the defiance to Rome; but ere he reached his
destination he was recalled, in consequence of a revolution in the palace at
Constantinople. The author of this, Basil the Macedonian, the founder of the
most important dynasty that ever occupied the throne of the Eastern Empire,
had for some time been associated in the government with the emperor Michael;
but at length, being fearful for his own safety, he resolved to put his
colleague out of the way, and assassinated him during one of his fits of

It is said that in consequence of this crime Photius refused to admit him
to the communion; anyhow, one of the first acts of Basil was to depose
Photius. A council, hostile to him, was now assembled, and was attended by
the legates of the new pope, Hadrian II (869). By this Ignatius was restored
to his former dignity, while Photius was degraded and his ordinations were
declared void. So violent was the animosity displayed against him that he was
dragged before the assembly by the Emperor's guard, and his condemnation was
written in the sacramental wine. During the ten years which elapsed between
his restoration and his death Ignatius continued to enjoy his high position in
peace, but for Photius other vicissitudes were in store.

On the removal of his rival, so strangely did opinion sway to and fro at
this time in the empire, the current of feeling set strongly in favor of the
learned exile. He was recalled, and his reinstatement was ratified by a
council (879). But with the death of Basil the Macedonian (886), he again
fell from power, for the successor of that Emperor, Leo the Philosopher,
ignominiously removed him, in order to confer the dignity on his brother
Stephen. He passed the remainder of his life in honorable retirement, and by
his death the chief obstacle in the way of reconcilement with the Roman Church
was removed. It is consoling to learn, when reading of the unhappy rivalry of
the two men so superior to the ordinary run of Byzantine prelates, that they
never shared the passions of their respective partisans, but retained a mutual
regard for one another.

We have now to consider the doctrinal questions which were in dispute
between the two churches. Far the most important of these was that relating
to the addition of the Filioque clause to the Nicene Creed. In the first
draft of the Creed, as promulgated by the council of Nicaea, the article
relating to the Holy Spirit ran simply thus: "I believe in the Holy Ghost."
But in the Second General Council, that of Constantinople, which condemned the
heresy of Macedonius, it was thought advisable to state more explicitly the
doctrine of the Church on this subject, and among other affirmations the
clause was added, "who proceedeth from the Father." Again, at the next general
council, at Ephesus, it was ordered that it should not be lawful to make any
addition to the Creed, as ratified by the Council of Constantinople. The
followers of the Western Church, however,generally taught that the Spirit
proceeds from the Son as well as from the Father, while those of the East
preferred to use the expression, "the Spirit of Christ, proceeding from the
Father, and receiving of the Son," or, "proceeding from the Father through the
Son." It was in the churches of Spain and France that the Filioque clause was
first introduced into the Creed and thus recited in the services, but the
addition was not at once approved at Rome. Pope Leo III, early in the ninth
century, not only expressed his disapproval of this departure from the
original form, but, in order to show his sense of the importance of adhering
to the traditional practice, caused the Creed of Constantinople to be engraved
on silver plates, both in Greek and Latin, and thus to be publicly set forth
in the Church. The first pontiff who authorized the addition was Nicholas I,
and against this Photius protested, both during the lifetime of that Pope and
also in the time of John VIII, when it was condemned by the council held at
Constantinople in 879, which is called by the Greeks the Eighth General
Council. It is clear from what we have already seen that Photius was prepared
to seize on any point of disagreement in order to throw it in the teeth of his
opponents, but in this matter the Eastern Church had a real grievance to
complain of. The Nicene Creed was to them what it was not to the Western
Church, their only creed, and the authority of the councils, by which its form
and wording were determined, stood far higher in their estimation. To add to
the one and to disregard the other were, at least in their judgment, the
violation of a sacred compact.

The other question, which, if not actually one of doctrine, had come to
be regarded as such, was that of the azyma, that is, the use of unfermented
bread in the celebration of the eucharist. As far as one can judge from the
doubtful evidence on the subject, it seems probable that ordinary, that is,
leavened bread, was generally used in the church for this purpose until the
seventh or eighth century, when unleavened bread began to be employed in the
West, on the ground that it was used in the original institution of the
sacrament, which took place during the Feast of the Passover. In the Eastern
Church this change was never admitted. It seems strange that so in
significant a matter of observance should have been erected into a question of
the first importance between the two communions, but the reason of this is not
far to seek. The fact is that, whereas the weighty matters of dispute - the
doctrine of the Procession of the Holy Spirit, and the papal claims to
supremacy - required some knowledge and reflection in order rightly to
understand their bearings, the use of leavened or unleavened bread was a
matter within the range of all, and those who were on the lookout for a ground
of antagonism found it here ready to hand.

In the story of the conversion of the Russian Vladimir we are told that
the Greek missionary who expounded to him the religious views of the Eastern
Church, when combating the claims of the emissaries of the Roman communion,
remarked: "They celebrate the mass with unleavened bread; therefore they have
not the true religion." Still, even Photius, when raking together the most
minute points of difference between him and his adversaries, did not introduce
this one. It was reserved for a hot-headed partisan at a later period to
bring forward as a subject of public discussion.

This was Michael Cerularius, Patriarch of Constantinople, with whose name
the Great Schism will forever be associated. The circumstances which led up
to that event are as follows: For a century and a half from the death of
Photius the controversy slumbered, though no advance was made toward an
understanding with respect to the points at issue. In Italy, and even at
Rome, churches and monasteries were tolerated in which the Greek rite was
maintained, and similar freedom was allowed to the Latins resident in the
Greek empire. But this tacit compact was broken in 1053 by the patriarch
Michael, who, in his passionate antagonism to everything Western, gave orders
that all the churches in Constantinople in which worship was celebrated
according to the Roman rite should be closed. At the same time - aroused,
perhaps, in some measure by the progress of the Normans in conquering Apulia,
which tended to interfere with the jurisdiction still exercised by the Eastern
Church in that province - he joined with Leo, the archbishop of Achrida and
metropolitan of Bulgaria, in addressing a letter to the Bishop of Trani in
Southern Italy, containing a violent attack on the Latin Church, in which the
question of the azyma was put prominently forward.

Directions were further given for circulating this missive among the
Western clergy. It happened that at the time when the letter arrived at
Trani, Cardinal Humbert, a vigorous champion of ecclesiastical rights, was
residing in that city, and he translated it into Latin and communicated it to
Pope Leo IX. In answer, the Pope addressed a remonstrance to the Patriarch,
in which, without entering into the specific charges that he had brought
forward, he contrasted the security of the Roman See in matters of doctrine,
arising from the guidance which was guaranteed to it through St. Peter, with
the liability of the Eastern Church to fall into error, and pointedly referred
to the more Christian spirit manifested by his own communion in tolerating
those from whose opinions they differed. Afterward, at the commencement of
1054, in compliance with a request from the emperor Constantine Monomachus,
who was anxious on political grounds to avoid a rupture, he sent three legates
to Constantinople to arrange the terms of an agreement. These were Frederick
of Lorraine, Chancellor of the Roman Church; Peter, Archbishop of Amalfi, and
Cardinal Humbert.

The legates were welcomed by the Emperor, but they unwisely adopted a
lofty tone toward the haughty Patriarch, who thenceforward avoided all
communication with them, declaring that on a matter which so seriously
affected the whole Eastern Church he could take no steps without consulting
the other patriarchs. Humbert now published an argumentative reply to
Michael's letter to the Pope, in the form of a dialogue between two members of
the Greek and Latin churches, in which the charges brought against his own
communion were discussed seriatim, and especially those relating to fasting on
Saturday and the use of unleavened bread in the eucharist. A rejoinder to
this appeared from the pen of a monk of the monastery of Studium, Nicetas
Pectoratus, in which the enforced celibacy of the Western clergy, on which
Photius had before animadverted, was severely criticised. The Cardinal
retorted in intemperate language, and so entirely had the legates secured the
support of Constantine that Nicetas' work was committed to the flames, and he
was forced to recant what he had said against the Roman Church. But the
Patriarch was immovable, and for the moment he occupied a stronger position
than the Emperor, who desired to conciliate him. At last the patience of the
legates was exhausted, and on July 16, 1054, they proceeded to the Church of
St. Sophia, and deposited on the altar, which was prepared for the celebration
of the eucharist, a document containing a fierce anathema, by which Michael
Cerularius and his adherents were condemned. After their departure they were
for a moment recalled, because the Patriarch expressed a desire to confer with
them; but this Constantine would not permit, fearing some act of violence on
the part of the people. They then finally left Constantinople, and from that
time to the present all communion has been broken off between the two great
branches of Christendom.

The breach thus made was greatly widened at the period of the crusades.
However serious may have been the alienation between the East and West at the
time of their separation, it is clear that the Greeks were not regarded by the
Latins as a mere heretical sect, for one of the primary objects with which the
First Crusade was undertaken was the deliverance of the Eastern Empire from
the attacks of the Mahometans. But the familiarity which arose from the
presence of the crusaders on Greek soil ripened the seeds of mutual dislike
and distrust. As long as negotiations between the two parties took place at a
distance, the differences, however irreconcilable they might be in principle,
did not necessarily bring them into open antagonism, whereas their more
intimate acquaintance with one another produced personal and national
ill-will. The people of the West now appeared more than ever barbarous and
overbearing, and the Court of Constantinople more than ever senile and
designing. The crafty policy of Alexius Comnenus in transferring his allies
with all speed into Asia, and declining to take the lead in the expedition,
was almost justified by the necessity of delivering his subjects from these
unwelcome visitors and avoiding further embarrassments. But the iniquitous
Fourth Crusade (1204) produced an ineradicable feeling of animosity in the
minds of the Byzantine people. The memory of the barbarities of that time,
when many Greeks died as martyrs at the stake for their religious convictions,
survives at the present day in various places bordering on the Aegean, in
legends which relate that they were formerly destroyed by the Pope of Rome.
In the case of Mount Athos the story probably arose from the monasteries
having been plundered by an agent of Cardinal Benedict, not long after the
Frankish occupation of Salonica at the time of that crusade.

Still, the anxiety of the Eastern emperors to maintain their position by
means of political support from Western Europe brought it to pass that
proposals for reunion were made on several occasions. Even while the Latins
were occupying Constantinople, John Ducas Vatatces, whose court was at Nicaea,
entered into communication, through the patriarch Germanus, with Pope Gregory
IX, in the hope of recovering his lost dominions through his mediation. In
the year 1233 the Pope sent two Dominicans and two Franciscans as his envoys,
and they were received with great honor, but in the discussion which ensued
neither side would abate anything of its claims, and no agreement was arrived
at. A nearer approach to outward reunion was reached some forty years later
by the influence of Michael Palaeologus, who in the mean while had made
himself master of Constantinople. Michael was aware that Charles of Anjou,
whose daughter was married to the heir of Baldwin, the last of the Latin
emperors of the East, was designing to invade his dominions, in order to
assert the claims of his son-in-law. With the view of averting this
catastrophe, he endeavored to win the influence of the Pope, Gregory X, in his
favor, and the price which he undertook to pay for this was the submission of
the Greek to the Roman Church. Gregory at this time was exerting himself to
organize a crusade, and on this ground, as well as to reestablish the unity of
Christendom, he was anxious to secure the good-will of the Greek Emperor. He
therefore prohibited Charles of Anjou from attacking the empire, and summoned
a council to meet at Lyons in 1274, one of the purposes of which was to
readmit the Eastern communion within the Catholic Church. At this the Greek
envoys presented themselves, and after repeating the Creed, with the addition
of the Filioque, they swore to conform to the faith of the Roman Church, and
to recognize the supremacy of the Pope. But when this occurrence was reported
in the East, it produced an outburst of indignation, and Michael found himself
obliged to remove the patriarch Joseph, and to substitute for him John Beccus,
an able and accomplished man who had already convinced himself of the justice
of the claims of the papal see. In order to silence opposition the Emperor
now proceeded to the most violent measures, and imprisonment, scourging,
mutilation, and binding were resorted to, as in the days of the iconoclastic

Many of the Greeks emigrated to Thessaly, which was in the power of the
Wallachians, or to the empire of Trebizond, to avoid signing the hated
articles of union. It is due to Beccus to say that he did all that was in his
power to mitigate these atrocities, on one occasion even refusing the
communion to the Emperor until he agreed to spare one of his victims. During
the rest of Michael's reign the discontent felt by his subjects constantly
endangered his throne, and the concordat with Rome was ignored by his
successor, Andronicus II.

The final attempt at reconciliation was made when the Greek empire was
reduced to the direct straits, and its rulers were prepared to purchase the
aid of Western Europe against the Ottomans by almost any sacrifice. In the
year 1425, when John VI ascended the throne, he found the Eastern Roman Empire
reduced to the city of Constantinople, a few neighboring towns, Thessalonica,
and a part of the Peloponnesus. In this condition of weakness, the overthrow
of the state was only a question of time, unless their deliverance was wrought
by a strong combination of the Christian powers; and this could only be
brought about through the influence of the Roman Pontiff. Accordingly,
application was made to Pope Eugenius IV, and by him the representatives of
the Eastern Church were invited to attend the council which was summoned to
meet at Ferrara in 1438.The Emperor himself and the Greek patriarch Joseph
proceeded thither, and intheir company, among other officers of church and
state, were four men who weredestined to make a mark in history - Isidore of
Russia and the learned Bessarion, both of whom were afterward cardinals of the
Roman Church; Gennadius, who became patriarch of Constantinople under Mahomet
II, and the philosopher Gemistus Plethon, whose eloquent advocacy of the views
of Plato during this visit to Italy revived the study of that author in the
West. They were provided with galleys by the Pope, and were conveyed to
Venice, where a magnificent reception awaited them, and from thence, in the
month of March, 1438, they proceeded to Ferrara. There is no need to dwell on
the circumstance, which was of primary importance to the Western Church, that
the rival council of Basle was sitting at the same time, nor on the advances
which that council had made toward the Byzantine Emperor; the Greeks, however,
found the assembly to which they had been summoned but thinly attended, and
they were themselves exposed to numerous humiliations in their intercourse
with the Pope and his subordinates. After a time the plague broke out in
Ferrara, and this was made a pretext for transferring the scene of the council
to Florence.

The questions in dispute which were to be regarded as of vital importance
had been determined on at Ferrara, and were more fully discussed when the
council reassembled. These were four - the Procession of the Holy Spirit,
with the addition of the Filioque clause to the Creed; the use of unfermented
bread; purgatory; and the supremacy of the pope. They were debated at great
length, and with much obstinacy, but ultimately on all of them, though one or
two slight concessions were made to the Greeks, the views of the Latin Church
were approved. Among the representatives of the Eastern communion great
differences of opinion prevailed; and notwithstanding the arguments of Isidore
and Bessarion, who advocated throughout the cause of the union, it required no
little urgency, amounting at times to threats on the part of the Emperor, to
compel the dissidents to conform to the decision of the majority. One of
their number, Mark, the stout-hearted Bishop of Ephesus, stood firm to the
last. In return for these concessions it was stipulated that the Pope should
supply vessels and men-at-arms for the defence of Constantinople, and should
move the sovereigns of the West to espouse the cause of the Greeks. Before
the edict of the Council was finally ratified, the patriarch Joseph died, and
was buried in the baptistery at Florence, but it was subscribed by the Pope,
the Emperor, and the other dignitaries, and was solemnly promulgated in the
cathedral of that city, July 6, 1438.

The Emperor, however, on his return home, soon discovered that his
pilgrimage to the West had been lost labor. Pope Eugenius, indeed, provided
him with two galleys and a guard of three hundred men, equipped at his own
expense, but the hoped - for succors from Western Europe did not arrive. His
own subjects were completely alienated by the betrayal of their cherished
faith; the clergy who favored the union were regarded as traitors, and the
churches where they ministered were deserted; and the "Zealots" - as those now
called themselves who were strictest in their religious observances and in the
maintenance of the orthodox belief - exerted themselves in strenuous

But the deluge was approaching which was to involve them all in common
ruin. John Palaeologus himself did not survive to see the final catastrophe;
but within fifteen years from the Council of Florence, Constantinople was
captured by the Turks, and the Empire of the East had ceased to exist


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