Emperor and Church in the Last Centuries of Byzantium

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This study discusses relations between the Church and the emperor in the last two centuries of the Byzantine empire’s existence, in the Palaiologan period (thirteenth to fifteenth centuries). It questions the accepted view that the Church rose in importance and status as imperial power and authority declined. According to this view, expressed by Steven Runciman and accepted by historians since, a strong Church was the legacy of the Byzantine empire to the Ottomans. In this article the ceremonies of the late Byzantine court, as represented by the mid-fourteenth-century text of Pseudo-Kodinos, are examined for indications of continuity in the emperor’s dominant role in the Church in this later period. Gilbert Dagron’s contrary perspective is considered. It is then argued that the writings of two late Byzantine churchmen, Symeon of Thessalonike and Makarios of Antioch, who insist on a lesser role for the emperor in the selection and the making of a patriarch, provide evidence for the contemporary performance of the promotion of a patriarch as described by Pseudo-Kodinos. While the two churchmen tried to show that the emperor was subject to the Church, practice shows something different.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudies in Church History
Subtitle of host publicationThe Church and Empire
EditorsStewart Brown, Charlotte Methuen, Andrew Spicer
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2018

Publication series

NameStudies in Church History
PublisherCambridge University Press


  • Byzantine Church, emperor, caesaropapism

ASJC Scopus subject areas