History Podcasts

Constantine VII

Constantine VII

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Constantine VII was Byzantine emperor from 945 until 959 CE. Sometimes known as Constantine Porphyrogennetos because of his birth in the purple chamber of the royal palace, he was served by various regents from 912 CE until reigning in his own right after a 33-year wait. Known for his prolific writing and as a sponsor of literature and the arts, the emperor's reign was a successful one and included notable victories against the Arabs in Mesopotamia.

Succession & Regents

Constantine was born in 906 CE; his mother was Zoe Karvounopsina, fourth wife of emperor Leo VI (886-912 CE). As such, the emperor was a member and fourth ruler of the Macedonian dynasty founded by Basil I (r. 867-886 CE). Constantine, as was the tradition, had already been crowned co-emperor by his father in 908 CE, and when Leo died on 11 May 912 CE, his only male heir, Constantine VII, took the throne just a few days shy of his eighth birthday.

Constantine VII, like his father Leo VI, was “born in the purple” or porphyrogennetos. The phrase derived from the porphyry, a rare purple-laced marble, that was used in the chamber of the palace at Constantinople where Leo's birth, and many subsequent ones, took place. The restriction that only royalty wore robes made with Tyrian purple dated back to Roman times, and this new tradition was one more attempt to further reinforce the legitimacy of dynastic succession and deter would-be usurpers. With many regents and pretenders to his throne, Constantine's claim to legitimacy would prove a very valuable one indeed.

The Byzantine Empire was regaining some of its lost lustre & Constantine's court began to attract dignitaries eager to see for themselves this learned young emperor.

Because of his young age, Constantine's uncle Alexander acted as his regent. Alexander, a drunken roisterer infamous for his cruelty and debauched lifestyle, died in 913 CE while performing pagan sacrifices in the Hippodrome of Constantinople. It was just as well for the young Constantine as Alexander had boasted he would have the boy castrated. Constantine's next regent was Nicholas I Mystikos, the Patriarch (bishop) of Constantinople, with one of Nicholas' first acts being to dismiss his rival the emperor's mother to a convent. Zoe was shorn of her hair and henceforth would only be known as Sister Anna. Although a revolt led by the usurper Constantine Doukas was quashed, the bishop proved inadequate in responding to the threat of Symeon, Tsar of the Bulgars, who was as troublesome now as he had been during Leo VI's reign. Symeon's armies were almost at the gates of Constantinople, and the reeling empire was obliged to meet his peace terms which included marrying his daughter to Constantine VII.

A faction of the Byzantine court baulked at the idea of merely handing over power to the Bulgar emperor and staged a coup d'etat. Consequently, in February 914 CE, Constantine's mother returned from the political wilderness, called off the proposed marriage alliance and acted as her son's third regent. Zoe, although enjoying some military success against the Arabs, turned out to be just as ineffectual in staving of the Bulgars' renewed attacks in the Balkans and Greece, and she was forced to step down in 919 CE, undergo another haircut and retreat back to her nunnery. Romanos I Lekapenos, commander of the Byzantine navy, took his chance and became regent number four in 920 CE. He enjoyed certain successes against the Arabs in Mesopotamia, capturing Melitene, Nisibis, Dara, Amida, Martyropolis, and Edessa. To cement his position, Romanos had his daughter Helena marry Constantine, had himself crowned co-emperor and declared senior to Constantine, and then even had his three sons crowned as co-emperors.

Romanos may have initially been planning to found a new dynasty of his own, but the project was practically sunk when his eldest and most capable son, Christopher, died in 944 CE. The co-emperor's other sons were too young and useless, and it seems likely their father planned to at last release the throne to its rightful occupant, Constantine VII. Romanos had, after all, a stake already in the Macedonian dynasty now that his daughter was empress. However, Romanos' two remaining sons had other plans and themselves staged a coup in 944 CE in which they exiled their father to a monastery. Fortunately for Constantine, there was significant support at court to return the throne to the legitimate line of descent, and the Romanos boys were kicked out of Constantinople on 27 January 945 CE. Constantine could finally take the throne in his own right, aged 39: it was better late than never.

Love History?

Sign up for our free weekly email newsletter!

Land Reforms

Constantine continued the agrarian reforms of Romanos I and sought to rebalance wealth and tax responsibilities, thus, the larger estate owners (dynatoi) had to return lands they had acquired from the peasantry since 945 CE without being given any compensation in return. For land acquired between 934 and 945 CE, the peasants were required to repay the fee they had received for their land. The land rights of soldiers were likewise protected by new laws. Because of these reforms “the condition of the landed peasantry - which formed the foundation of the whole economic and military strength of the empire - was better off than it had been for a century” (Norwich, 183).

Military Campaigns & Diplomacy

Constantine's foreign exploits usually saw him face the now familiar enemy of the Arab Caliphate as, fortunately for the Byzantines, Symeon the Bulgar had now been succeeded by the more accommodating Peter and a peace treaty was signed eliminating that particular enemy of the empire. 949 CE saw a failed attempt to take Crete, but Germanikeia on the Mesopotamian frontier was captured the same year. In 953 CE Germanikeia was lost again, but several victories came in the following years, thanks to the able generals Nikephoros II Phokas and John I Tzimiskes, both of whom would be future emperors. Nikephoros, particularly, enjoyed such successes that he became known as the “Pale Death of the Saracens” and even a rumour of his army merely mobilising caused the Arabs to retreat. In 958 CE Tzimiskes led a force which captured the strategically important Samosata on the upper Euphrates river.

The Byzantine Empire was regaining some of its lost lustre and Constantine's court began to attract dignitaries eager to see for themselves this learned young emperor who had set Constantinople back on its feet. The historian L. Brownworth makes the following comments on the diplomatic sparkle Constantine showered on his visiting peers from foreign powers:

Dignitaries and ambassadors from the caliph of Cordoba to the crowned heads of Europe came flocking to Constantinople, where they were dazzled with the breadth of the emperor's knowledge and the splendor of his court. Entertained in the sumptuous palace known as the Hall of the Nineteen Couches, visiting guests would recline to eat in the ancient Roman fashion, clapping in wonder as golden plates laden with fruit would be unexpectedly lowered from the ceiling. Cleverly concealed cisterns would make wine splash from fountains or cascade down carved statues and columns, and an automatic clock in the city's main forum would complete the imperial tour de force. Most impressive of all, however, was the emperor himself. (188)

Literature & Arts

Constantine VII gained a reputation as a great scholar, and we know he was a collector of books, manuscripts, and artworks, and an accomplished painter, too. His most famous written works are the De administrando imperio, a handbook for rulers and diplomats (especially aimed at his son and heir) which includes notes on the cultures bordering the empire, the De thematibus, on the geography and history of the empire's various provinces, and the De ceremoniis on the protocols and ceremonies of the Byzantine court. Constantine drew on many earlier works, and his own thus preserve a rich Byzantine heritage, undaunted as he was by the task of sifting through the immense imperial archives, as he himself states in one of his books:

Research into history has become clouded and uncertain, either because of the scarcity of useful books or because the quantity of written material has aroused fear and dismay. (Herrin, 182).

The emperor sponsored the literary works of others, notably the Geoponika encyclopedia on agriculture and the catalogue of the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople by his asekretis (imperial secretary), the poet Constantine of Rhodes. Another important commission was the Synaxarion, a comprehensive calendar of saints, each figure having a short biography. Constantine revived the Magnaura university within the royal palace, which had four chairs: philosophy, geometry, astronomy, and grammar. Historians were another group supported by the emperor, including such noted figures as Genesios and Theodore Daphnopates. One of the most important histories of the period is the anonymous Theophanes Continuatus, a chronicle of Byzantine rulers and events from 813 to 961 CE.

Constantine was especially keen not to have any tarnish spread to his own image from some of his more dubious predecessors in the Macedonian dynasty, especially its founder Basil. Consequently, he wrote the whitewashed biographical Vita Basilii which became the accepted historical record of Basil's life and achievements. Besides his own literature, Constantine also supported other arts, especially the production of illuminated manuscripts and carved ivories.

Death & Legacy

Constantine's reign was a successful one, and he is remembered today as one of the more accomplished Byzantine rulers, as the historian J. J. Norwich here summarises:

He was an excellent Emperor: a competent, conscientious and hard-working administrator and an inspired picker of men, whose appointments to military, naval, ecclesiastical, civil and academic posts were both imaginative and successful. He did much to develop higher education and took a special interest in the administration of justice. That he ate and drank more than was good for him all our authorities seem to agree; but there is unanimity, too, on his constant good humour: he was unfailingly courteous to everyone and was never known to lose his temper. (181)

When Constantine died of natural causes on 9 November 959 CE, he was succeeded by his 20-year old son with Helena Lekapenos, Romanos II. Unfortunately for Romanos, his reign would be a short one, and his throne passed to his two young sons Basil II, “the Bulgar-Slayer”, and Constantine VIII in 963 CE, who would continue the Macedonian dynasty for another half-century.

The preeminence of the bishop of Rome over the entire Catholic Church, an institution known as "the papacy," took centuries to develop.

In the first few hundred years of Christianity, the term "pope," which means &ldquofather,&rdquo was used for any important and respected bishop, and the bishop of Rome was one of several important bishops in Christendom. 474

Rome had always been honored for her association with Peter and Paul and her position as the church in the Empire's capital, 475 but especially after Christianity was legalized under Emperor Constantine, the special status of that office grew even more with each passing Roman bishop.

The doctrine of the supremacy of the pope finally reached its height in the late 13th century, when Pope Boniface VIII claimed full religious and secular authority over every human being.

The article that follows traces the gradual rise of the papacy from Saint Peter in the 1st century to Pope Boniface VIII in the 13th.


Basil the Bulgar-Slayer (Boulgaroktonos), Basileus of the Romans for half a century (976-1025) and the great sovereign behind the grand expansion of the Roman state in the rise of the 11th century. Even if Constantine was excluded from the central use of power and direct decision making, it appears he never quarreled with his brother about authority matters and their relationship was peaceful.

In his younger days, Constantine was an extremely athletic prince he used to take part in running, wrestling competitions and adored to spend his time hunting. He was tall with a well-built physique and had mastered the art of horse-riding as every byzantine worth his salt. Like Basil, he was not a philosopher, neither an orator and his education was not the highest for a classic Romaios aristocrat, however, his speaking eloquence used to captivate the foreign ambassadors visiting his court.

An artwork showing the young brothers and co-emperors Basil II (in red dress) and Constantine VIII (in white dress), playing a Polo game (the famous Tzykanisterion) at the polo field of the Great Palace of Constantinople. Source: https://www.deviantart.com/amelianvs/art/Playing-a-Polo-at-the-Great-palace-Polo-field-531148389

It appears Constantine also had experience in war affairs. He had followed his brother in some of his campaigns, such as his final victorious expedition against the usurper Bardas Phocas. He had also followed Basil in a campaign on the eastern front, in 995, urging him to strike the city of Aleppo, then under the control of the Fatimids. But overall it appears that he was not entrusted with many political duties.

Basil remained unmarried and thus was weary of natural heirs, so on his deathbed, he had no other available choice but to summon Constantine to the capital from his villa in Nicaea and give him and his daughters, the strong scepter of the Romans.

How to Emperor 101 for dummies by Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos

Why do I post to you today? Well, for one I can't sleep.

But more importantly: To tell you how Byzantine crowning ceremonies worked.

ɻut Wil, that isn't an example of bad history, we're going to take your limbs for this'.

Jokes on you, I've already taken your orbs. Regardless, we're allowed to make these lesser known history posts. More so than that, I can also make this into a badhistory post too. Crusader Kings 2 only allows coronations for Catholics and reformed pagans, not Orthodox. Here's gonna be an example of Orthodox getting coronations.

Anyway, you probably all know about the piece on how Baldwin 1 was crowned. There I mentioned how Baldwin was crowned in a manner similar to Byzantine style. Here is the bit where you get told what that is.

Now, you might be wondering 'why do you need to know this, you write about the Latin Empire of Constantinople'. To which the answer is in the last post on it I gave.

In the medieval world publicly performed rites, rituals and ceremonies formed an essential part of political practices and state legitimation. 1 The Latin Empire was no exception. The Latin regime in Constantinople from its very outset began rapidly to mobilise its new appendages of state for the purposes of ensuring political stability and legitimacy. The Latin regime sought to tap into the large pre-existing well of political legitimacy to provide stabilisation and continuity upon which to anchor their new possessions upon the perilous waters of transcultural colonisation and occupation. To accomplish this, the new regime appears to have focused on replicating Imperial traditions previously observed, likely relying upon the knowledge of officials from the former regime and scouring the capital for precedent, during the ceremonial appointment of their new emperors.

Before we advance into this, we must raise the question of why the crusaders felt the need to establish a new emperor at all instead of merely creating a new Rex Graecorum, a Novum Regnum in the East. It appears that while most, if not all, of the crusader leadership might have scoffed at Byzantine claims to be the sole emperor of the Romans, they do appear to have accepted that Constantinople, and by extension the Byzantine lands, required an emperor to rule them. If Baldwin I was to rule the Queen of Cities, he had to become an Emperor. 2 Perhaps he was not the ‘emperor of the Romans’ of previous centuries, but he was a Christian emperor, a ruler of Romans and an eternal emperor nonetheless. 3

Now, you might ask, who are they getting their idea for how to crown him? As I've discussed in the previous post on this topic, it largely came from their observation of the crowning of Alexios IV in 1203.

The model used in the 1203 coronation of Alexios IV likely came from the tenth-century work of Byzantine emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus. 4 While no similar detailed models or instructions exist for the coronations of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, it is highly unlikely that the model underwent large scale changes, for reasons we shall return to.

However, before we come to examine the way that the Book of Ceremonies describes and outlines the process of crowning a Byzantine emperor, we must take a moment to consider the limitations of the material. As Jeffrey M. Featherstone has noted, Emperor Constantine VII had focused less upon describing the exact rite and ritual of his time and more on creating an idealised guide to future ceremonies, with elements and costumes of previous traditions merged together. The work sought more to create a system of ceremonies that imparted the view of a more glorious past and set the stage for a grander imperial future than to laboriously preserve previous tradition. In presenting himself as the master of ceremonies, Constantine VII sought to make up for his failings and lack of legacy as a military general, claiming imperial glamour via the organisation of numerous ceremonial movements within the capital. 5 Indeed, the only coronation recorded to match The Book of Ceremony’s model would be that of emperor Nikephoros II Phokas (963‒69) in 963, which copied heavily from the coronation of Leo 1 (457‒74) in 457 as it was described by Peter the Patrician. 6

Despite this, The Book of Ceremonies remains a vital tool for understanding Byzantine coronations. While the lack of evidence for any continuation of these ceremonial patterns after the ceremony of Nikephoros II but before that of Baldwin I could be interpreted as ‘proof’ that the rites described in The Book of Ceremonies were not followed by later emperors, this is unlikely to be the case. It is extremely unlikely that the organisers of Baldwin I’s coronation would have been aware of or read The Book of Ceremonies. The only manner in which they could be aware of and repeat the rites for crowning an emperor listed within would have been if they had witnessed it during the coronation of Alexios IV in 1203, as previously mentioned.

Before we advance to outline the nature of coronations described in the Book of Ceremonies, we must make a note of the geography of Constantinople, namely the differing palaces that will be mentioned. The Great Palace complex, containing the old palace of Daphne sat at the south-east of Constantinople, straddling the Hippodrome and south of the Hagia Sophia. The Palace of Blachernae, favoured by the Komnenoi and Angeloi dynasties sat in the North of the city, near to the walls. The Palace of Boukoleon favoured by the Latins sat adjacent to the old Great Palace complex, slightly to the south west. By the twelfth century the main path to the Hagia Sophia from the Palace appears to have been either the path flanking the Hippodrome, leading out from the passage to the imperial box or through the Great Palace itself and out of its northern gatehouse into the Augustaion (former market place transformed into a closed courtyard) and then north east up the street. By the time of the Fourth Crusade the situation appears to have shifted, the abandonment and rebuilding of the old Great Palace complex appears to have led to the development of a new pathway leading from the Palace of Boukoleon to the Augustaion through the old palace complex, yet the older path appears to have remained in use.

[Note: I've summed up what happens instead of giving the translated greek text. This is because it uses a lot of greek terms that would be confusing, so put it in more simple terms]

The Book of Ceremonies tells us that the a new would be emperor, would move through the rooms and sections of the Great Palace of Constantinople wearing a short purple cloak over a long-sleeved tunic, accompanied by his personal staff and bodyguards. The Imperial procession through the palace complex would pause to meet the chiefs of the army, the consuls and senators. These groups would acclaim the emperor and wish for ‘many good years’ of imperial rule before joining the imperial procession and switching into their ceremonial dress. The procession would advance out of the Grand Palace complex and head into the Hagia Sophia, the emperor entering the church separately and being ushered into the imperial robing-room, changing into a long-sleeved silk tunic and an tzitzakion (Khazar styled garment originally introduced by Eirini, the Khazar wife of Constantine V) yet keeping the short cloak. 7

Following this the emperor and the patriarch enter into the nave of the church, pausing to pray at the holy doors before mounting the ambo before the gathered crowds. After the Imperial chlamys (long cloak) and crown were prayed over by the patriarch the imperial bodyguard and eunuchs would place the chlamys on the emperor while the patriarch places the crown upon him. Following this the gathered nobility, senators and regiments cried out acclamations thrice, before praying for many years of Imperial rule. Having received these acclamations, the emperor returns to the robing room and is seated, with the differing factions of the crowd entering in groups to kiss both his knees. The assembled groups pray for many years of imperial rule and entered back into the nave of the church, where communion was held, followed by a post-coronation feast at the Great Palace complex. 8

In circumstances where a junior, or co-emperor was also receiving the crown, the customary feast would occur prior to the procession to the Hagia Sophia, the rite and customs being highly like that of the crowning of a senior emperor. However, the chlamys of the junior emperor, once blessed by the patriarch is handed to the senior emperor who places it upon the junior emperor. Likewise, while the patriarch blesses both crowns and crowns the senior emperor, the crown of the junior emperor is placed upon their head by the senior emperor. To the junior emperor the gathered elites within the church cry out ‘Worthy’ and the military banners and insignia are dipped and acclamation of ‘Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth’ are chanted before the following is chanted, each verse repeating thrice:

‘For God has shown mercy on his people, This is the great day of the Lord, This is a day of salvation for the Romans, This day is the joy of the world, On which the crown of the imperial power, Has been rightly placed upon your head. Glory to God, ruler of all. Glory to God, ruler of all. Glory to God who has crowned your head. Glory to God who has proclaimed you emperor. Glory to God who has glorified you thus. Glory to god who has thus determined.

Now having crowned you emperor and [junior emperor] with his own hand… May he guard you for a great number of years in the purple. With the augoustai and those born in the purple to the glory and exaltation of the Romans.

May God listen to your people!’ 9

Following these acclamations, the crowd continued to wish ‘many happy years’ upon the emperors and their families before departing.

And there you have it, how to crown an Emperor. According to the book of ceremonies, anyway. This isn't all of it, mind you. The work also has how to crown augustia, how to crown folks who are getting married etc etc.

So CK3 better fucking have Orthodox Coronations.

Frans Theuws, ‘Introduction: Rituals in Transforming Societies’, in Rituals of Power, from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages, ed. by Frans Theuws and Janet L. Nelson (Leiden: Brill, 2000), pp. 1-13, (pp. 6–9). Janet L. Nelson, ‘Coronation Rituals and Related Materials’, in Understanding Medieval Primary Sources: Using Historical Sources to Discover Medieval Europe, ed. by Joel T. Rosenthal (London: Routledge, 2012), pp. 114–30 (p. 116).

Filip Van Tricht, The Latin Renovatio of Byzantium: The Empire of Constantinople (1204-1228) (Leiden: Brill, 2011), p. 66. De oorkonden van de graven van Vlaanderen (1191-aanvang 1206), ed. by Walter Prevenier, 3 vols, Verzameling van de Akten der Belgische vorsten, 5 (Brussels: Paleis der Academiën, 1964-1971), i, 476-480.

Regesten der Kaiserurkunden des oströmischen Reiches von 565-1453, ed. by Franz Dolger and P. Wirth, 5 vols, Corpus der griechischen Urkunden des Mittelalters und der neueren Zeit, Regesten. Reihe A Abt.1 (München: Oldenbourg, 1977), iii, 1668.

Constantine Porphyrogennetos: The Book of Ceremonies, trans. by Ann Moffatt and Maxine Tall (Canberra: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, 2012), p. xxiii.

Jeffrey M. Featherstone, ‘De Ceremoniis and the Great Palace’, in The Byzantine World, ed. by Paul Stephenson (London: Routledge, 2012), pp. 162–74 (p. 162). Jonathan Shepard, ‘Adventus, Arrivistes and Rites of Rulership in Byzantium and France in the Tenth and Eleventh Century’, in Court Ceremonies and Rituals of Power in Byzantium and the Medieval Mediterranean: Comparative Perspectives, ed. by Alexander Daniel Beihammer, Stavroula Constantinou and Maria G. Parani (Leiden: Brill, 2013), pp. 337–71 (p. 342).

Featherstone, ‘De Ceremoniis and the Great Palace’, p. 172. (It is reasonable to assume that Romanus II, Constantine’s son who was crowned within Constantine’s lifetime would have also had such a rite, but no evidence exists to support this claim)

Constantine Porphyrogennetos: The Book of Ceremonies, pp. 191-92.

Constantine Porphyrogennetos: The Book of Ceremonies, pp. 192-93.

Imperial Partners: Constantine VII and Romanus Lecapenus

Constance Head describes how, in the tenth century, a scholarly young man and an ambitious admiral presided over the large Byzantine empire.

In the medieval Byzantine Empire there were many customs that differed sharply from those of most Western European monarchies. Among the most perplexing from the western point of view was the Byzantine idea that two men might share the imperial throne and reign together as partners. At times, this arrangement resulted in a most unlikely combination of rulers, though on the whole the practice of co-Emperorship worked surprisingly well.

In the long series of Byzantine monarchs, there is no pair of coEmperors so ill-assorted as Constantine VII and his father-in-law, Romanus Lecapenus - the scholar and the sailor. Yet in spite of the many differences between them, both Constantine VII and Romanus I rank high among the most significant rulers Byzantium ever produced.

By hereditary right, the throne belonged to Constantine, and in 913, the seven-year-old prince was duly crowned and proclaimed sole Basileus (Emperor). He was a frail little boy. From the moment he was born, people had uttered predictions that he could not possibly live.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

The Surprisingly Complicated History of Celibacy and Priesthood

Priestly celibacy, or rather the lack of it, is in the news. There have been allegations of sex orgies, prostitution and pornography against Catholic clerics in Italy. On March 8, Pope Francis suggested, in an interview with a German newspaper, Die Zeit, that the Catholic Church should discuss the tradition of celibacy in light of an increasing scarcity of priests in rural areas, especially in South America.

Although some headlines have suggested that the pope's latest comments signal a new openness to priestly marriage, neither of these recent developments&mdashthe allegations of sex scandals nor the debate about the tradition of priestly celibacy&mdashshould be surprising.

Celibate Christians, both monks and clergy, have a long history with scandal. As a scholar of early Christianity, I think it's important to highlight the fact that Catholic priestly celibacy has never been practiced uniformly and is, in fact, a late development in church practice.

Origins of Christian celibacy

One of the surprising and distinctive features of early Christianity is the praise of celibacy&mdashthe practice of abstaining from all sexual relations&mdashas an exemplary way to demonstrate one's faith.

Given Christianity's origins within first-century Palestinian Judaism, it was hardly a given that the new religion would develop a high regard for celibacy. Judaism valued family life, and many ritual observances were centered on the family.

But the early Christian Gospels, which told the story of the life of Jesus in the early first century A.D., never mentioned a possible wife &ndash a fact that has given rise to wild speculation in novels, films and recent sensational news stories. And Paul, a Jewish convert whose letters are the earliest books contained in the New Testament, implies that he himself was unmarried when he writes to the earliest Christian communities.

The stories of these founder figures, however, do not explain the course of Christian teaching about asceticism&mdasha wide range of practices of self-discipline that include fasting, giving up personal possessions, solitude and eventually priestly celibacy.

By the third and fourth centuries A.D., Christian writers had begun elevating the practice of celibacy and asceticism. They did so by pointing to both Jesus and Paul as models of the ascetic life as well as by carefully interpreting scripture in support of the practice of celibacy.

The influence of Greco-Roman philosophy

Christianity developed in a complex world of Greco-Roman religious diversity, including Judaism as well as a variety of Greco-Roman religious movements. From Judaism it inherited monotheistic ideas, codes of ethical conduct, ritual practices like fasting, and a high regard for scriptural authority.

From Greco-Roman philosophies, Christian writers adopted ideals of self-control ("enkrateia," in Greek) and withdrawal ("anachoresis," a term that came to be applied to Christian hermits). Discipline and self-control meant control over one's emotions, thoughts and behaviors as well as, in some cases, careful attention to what one ate and drank, how attached one was to possessions and the control of one's sexual desire.

Over the course of several centuries, Christian writers&mdashchurch leaders in many cases&mdashtook the moral and scriptural ideals from Judaism and coupled them with Greco-Roman philosophical ideals of self-control to argue for the virtue of celibacy.

Christian views on suffering and persecution

Simultaneously, and also from a very early stage, Christians viewed themselves as a persecuted minority. This meant that one way Christians could prove their faith was by being resolute during these times of persecution.

This victimization could take the form of individuals being called before a judge and possibly executed, or it could be directed against communities as a whole through mocking and slander. In either case, from the beginning Christians developed a view of themselves as a suffering and persecuted minority.

This attitude naturally changed when the Roman Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in the fourth century and issued an Edict of Toleration for all religions.

Christians now had to reevaluate their self-identity. And they appear to have increasingly channeled their views about suffering, asceticism and celibacy into the formation of monasteries and convents, where groups of men and women could live lives of celibacy, prayer and manual labor.

Priestly celibacy

What do these developments have to do with priests, though?

Although Christian "clergy," such as bishops and deacons, begin to appear around the year A.D. 100 in early Christian communities, priests emerge as Christian leaders only much later. Priests came to be the ordained clergy tasked with officiating rituals like the Eucharist or Lord's Supper, also known as Communion.

And what about their celibacy? Even here, evidence is both unclear and late: there were reports that some bishops at the Council of Nicea, called by Emperor Constantine in A.D. 325 to address the problem of heresies, argued for a consistent practice of priestly celibacy. This, however, was voted down at the conclusion of the council. The debate resurfaced a couple of hundred years later, but still without uniform agreement.

Over time, priestly celibacy became a serious point of disagreement between the Eastern Orthodox and the Western Roman Catholic churches and contributed to the Great Schism between the two in A.D. 1054. Pope Gregory VII attempted to mandate priestly celibacy, but the practice was contested widely by Christians in the Orthodox Eastern Mediterranean world.

Five centuries later, the issue was once again at the forefront of debate when it became a significant factor in the Protestant split from Catholicism during the Reformation.

A diversity of beliefs, practices

Given this widespread disagreement about the requirement for priests to be celibate, it is not surprising to find that there was widespread diversity on instituting the practice, even within Roman Catholicism. There have always been exceptions to the celibate rule within Roman Catholicism as, for example, among married priests from other denominations of Christianity who convert to Catholicism.

So will the pope's words about an open discussion bring about dramatic change? Probably not. And will the latest round of scandals be the last of these sorts of allegations? Perhaps not. In my opinion, it is unlikely that we will see a dramatic change to policy or practice.

But the latest developments do highlight once again an abiding feature of world religions: They are dynamic social and cultural institutions that manage to encompass both doctrinal teachings and a diversity of practices and beliefs.

Gregory the Great

Gregory, before he became pope, happened to see some Anglo-Saxon slaves for sale in a Roman marketplace. He asked about the race of the remarkable blond men and was told they were "Anglos." "Not Anglos, but angels," he was said to reply. As a result, it is said, Gregory was later inspired to send missionaries to England.


Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite writes

Boethius completes Consolation of Philosophy

Justinian publishes his legal Code

Muhammad's hegira: birth of Islam

Though apocryphal, the story shows a devout Gregory concerned about the spread of Christian faith. But this was but one facet of Gregory's extraordinary talent and energies.

Noble beginning

Gregory was descended from Roman nobles with a strong legacy of Christian faith. He was related to two previous popes (Felix III and Agapitus I), his aunts were nuns, and his parents joined cloisters in their later years. He was raised in Rome when it was only a shell of its former glory.

By the age of 30, he was the chief administrative official of the city, responsible for finances, police, provisioning, and public works&mdashan experience that helped him hone his administrative skills and, together with his personal wealth, gave him the opportunity to create six monasteries.

Yet Gregory remained dissatisfied, and upon his father's death in 574, he converted his house into a monastery and retired to a life of contemplation and prayer. During these years, the happiest in Gregory's life, he began a detailed study of the Scriptures. Here he also ruined his health with fasting, a sacrifice that would precipitate his early death.

Called again to service

His administrative skills did not remain unappreciated. In 577 Pope Benedict appointed Gregory one of the seven deacons of Rome, and Pope Pelagius II sent him to Constantinople in 578 as representative to the imperial court, then later recalled him to serve as his confidential adviser.

In 589 a flood destroyed the grain reserves of Rome, instigating a famine and then a plague that swept through Rome and killed Pope Pelagius. Gregory was elected to succeed him. Though he had tried to refuse the office, once elected, he went to work with vigor.

To deal with the famine, Gregory instituted a city-wide penance, fed people from the church's granaries, and organized systematic relief for the poor.

Gregory then set himself reforming the church. He removed high officials "for pride and misdeeds," enforced celibacy, replaced lay officers with monks, and initiated a reorganization of "the patrimony of Peter," the vast land holdings of the church. The efficient and humane management of these estates brought in the revenue necessary to run the church as well as perform tasks the imperial government was neglecting.

An attack by the Lombard invaders in 592 and the inaction of the imperial representative forced Gregory to negotiate an end to the siege of Rome. When the imperial representative broke the truce in 593, Gregory purchased a separate peace treaty with tributes from the church coffers. By this time in Roman history, the pope had become the unofficial civil ruler of Italy, appointing generals, arranging relief, rallying cities to the defense, and paying the salaries of soldiers.

Pastoral care

Gregory also was actively concerned about the work of priests. He wrote a book of instruction for bishops, On Pastoral Care , in which he wrote, "Act in such a way that your humility may not be weakness, nor your authority be severity. Justice must be accompanied by humility, that humility may render justice lovable." It became a manual for holy life throughout the Middle Ages.

Gregory believed preaching was one of the clergy's primary duties, and he conducted a preaching tour of area churches. His Homilies on the Gospels was published in 591 and widely used for hundreds of years.

In 593 Gregory published his Dialogues, a history of the lives of Italian saints, as well as his sermons on Ezekiel and the Song of Songs. In 595 he published his allegorical exposition on Job, Moralia , and made changes to the liturgy. His interest in church music has been honored, as well: his name has been given to the plainsong ("Gregorian chant") that developed over the next few hundred years.

His frequent correspondence across the world shows him well aware of evangelistic opportunities in Britain. So it is not surprising that in 596 he sent Augustine, along with 40 monks, on a mission to "this far corner of the world."

Diverse legacy

Gregory set a high mark for the medieval papacy. He defended the primacy of the chair of Peter against even the smallest slight. He reconciled many independent bishops to Rome by humble appeals, not defending his personal rights but those of the institution. He was the first pope to call himself Servus Servorum Dei, "the servant of the servants of God," a title still in use today.

The administrative framework he set in place for the management of church lands made possible the development of the Papal States. His encouragement of the monastic life, his friendship with the kings of Spain and Gaul, and his deferential yet independent relationship with the emperor set a pattern for church-state relations for centuries.

He is one of the four great Latin doctors of the church (along with Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome), and upon his death he was named a saint by popular acclaim.

Constantine History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient and distinguished surname Constantine is derived from the Old French name "Constantin," which is itself derived from the Latin "Constantinus," meaning "steadfast and faithful." This name was popular throughout Continental Europe, due to the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, for whom Byzantium was renamed Constantinople. The name was brought to England in the wake of the Norman Conquest.

Set of 4 Coffee Mugs and Keychains

$69.95 $48.95

Early Origins of the Constantine family

The surname Constantine was first found in Devon and Cornwall where "Constantine, King of Devon and Cornwall in latter half of sixth century, after a wicked life, was 'converted to the Lord.' He then abandoned his throne and became a monk under S. Carthach at Rahin. King's County, Ireland. He afterwards crossed over to Scotland, founded the church of Govan, and suffered martyrdom in Kintyre, where there is a church, Kilchousland, named after him. In Angus he is vulgarly called Cousnan." [1]

Another source notes: "Nigel was Viscount of Constantine or Coutances 1047, when he revolted against Duke William and lost his vast estates. Of his descendants, Ralph de Constantine was seated in Salop 1086 [2] . Hugh de Constantine, his son, granted lands to Salop Abbey before 1121. Umfrid de Constantine witnessed its foundation charter 1093, and Richard de Constantine that of Haghmond Abbey 1099. The family long flourished in Salop, and temp. Henry II. sent a branch to Ireland, of which Geoffry de Constantine witnessed the charter of St. Thomas, Dublin, 1177, and founded Tristernagh Abbey. " [3]

Coat of Arms and Surname History Package

$24.95 $21.20

Early History of the Constantine family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Constantine research. Another 132 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1086, 1172, 1501, 1189, 1199, 1236, 1173, 1501, 1559, 1524, 1559 and 1640 are included under the topic Early Constantine History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Unisex Coat of Arms Hooded Sweatshirt

Constantine Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Constantine, Constantin, Cossentine, Considene, Consterdine, Constyn, Costantine and many more.

Early Notables of the Constantine family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Walter de Constantiis, who was Vice Chancellor of England in 1173. George Constantine (b. 1501-1559), was a a Protestant reformer who was first brought up as a surgeon. "He received his education in the University of Cambridge, and was Bachelor of Canon Law in 1524. Adopting the reformed doctrines.
Another 55 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Constantine Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Constantine family to Ireland

Some of the Constantine family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 84 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Constantine migration +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Constantine Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Jon. Constantine, who settled in Virginia in 1637
  • Thomas Constantine, who immigrated to Maryland in 1675
  • Thomas Constantine, who landed in Maryland in 1675 [4]
  • Charles Constantine, who arrived in Barbados in 1677
  • Conrad Constantine, who immigrated to Delaware in 1693
  • . (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Constantine Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Jean Constantine, who settled in Virginia in 1700
  • Tho Constantine, who arrived in Virginia in 1700 [4]
  • Nicholas Constantine, who arrived in New York in 1798 [4]
Constantine Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Antonio Constantine, who arrived in Puerto Rico in 1816 [4]
  • Francisco Constantine, who landed in Mobile County, Ala in 1835 [4]
  • John Constantine, aged 38, who arrived in New York in 1854 [4]
  • John Constantine, who settled in New York in 1854
  • Lefter Constantine, who was naturalized in Texas in 1890
  • . (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Constantine migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Constantine Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Jane Constantine, who emigrated from Ireland to Saint John, New Brunswick in 1842
  • Miss. Bridget Constantine who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Horatio" departing 18th July 1847 from Limerick, Ireland the ship arrived on 3rd September 1847 but she died on board [5]

Constantine migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Constantine Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • William Constantine, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on September 3rd, 1820, settling in New South Wales, Australia[6]
  • Mr. Francis Constantine, British Shoe Maker who was convicted in North Riding, Yorkshire, England for 10 years for larceny, transported aboard the "Asia" on 25th April 1840, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land), he died in 1868 [7]
  • Joseph Constantine, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "Adelaide" on August 08, 1849, settling in Van Diemen's Land and Port Phillip, Australia[8]
  • Sarah Constantine, aged 59, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1856 aboard the ship "Navarino" [9]

Constantine migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Constantine VII - History

Chapter XV.— The Gospel according to Mark.

1. And thus when the divine word had made its home among them, 387 387 The origin of the Church at Rome is shrouded in mystery. Eusebius gives the tradition which rules in the Catholic Church, viz.: that Christianity was introduced into Rome by Peter, who went there during the reign of Claudius. But this tradition is sufficiently disproved by history. The origin of the Church was due to unknown persons, though it is possible we may obtain a hint of them in the Andronicus and Junta of Romans xvi. 7, who are mentioned as apostles, and who were therefore, according to the usage of the word in Paul’s writings, persons that introduced Christianity into a new place—missionaries proper, who did not work on others’ ground. the power of 116 Simon was quenched and immediately destroyed, together with the man himself. 388 388 See chap. 12, note 9, and chap. 14, note 8. And so greatly did the splendor of piety illumine the minds of Peter’s hearers that they were not satisfied with hearing once only, and were not content with the unwritten teaching of the divine Gospel, but with all sorts of entreaties they besought Mark, 389 389 John Mark, son of Mary (Acts xii. 12), a sister of Barnabas (Col. iv. 10), was a companion of Paul and Barnabas in their missionary journeys, and afterward a companion of Barnabas alone (Acts xv. 39), and still later was with Paul again in Rome (Col. iv. 10 and Philemon 24), and with Peter when he wrote his first epistle (1 Pet. v. 13). For the later traditions concerning Mark, see the next chapter, note 1. a follower of Peter, and the one whose Gospel is extant, that he would leave them a written monument of the doctrine which had been orally communicated to them. Nor did they cease until they had prevailed with the man, and had thus become the occasion of the written Gospel which bears the name of Mark. 390 390 That Mark wrote the second Gospel under the influence of Peter, or as a record of what he had heard from him, is the universal tradition of antiquity. Papias, in the famous and much-disputed passage (quoted by Eusebius, III. 39, below), is the first to record the tradition. Justin Martyr refers to Mark’s Gospel under the name “Memoirs ( ἀπομνημονεύματα ) of Peter” (Dial. c. Tryph. 106 the translation in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Am. Ed. Vol. I. p. 252, which refers the αὐτοῦ to Christ, is incorrect compare Weiss, N. T. Einleitung, p. 44, note 4). Irenæus (Adv. Hær. III. 11. 1, quoted below, V. 8. 2), Tertullian (Adv. Marcionem, IV. 5), and Origen (quoted below, VI. 25) confirm the tradition, which is repeated over and over again by the Fathers.
The question as to the real authorship of our second Gospel, or rather as to its composition and its relation to Matthew and Luke, is a very difficult one. The relationship of the three synoptical Gospels was first discussed by Augustine (De Consensu Evangelistarum), who defended the traditional order, but made Mark dependent upon Matthew. This view prevailed until the beginning of the present century, when the problem was attacked anew, and since then it has been the crux of the literary criticism of the Bible. The three have been held to be dependent upon each other, and every possible order has found its advocates a common source has been assumed for the three: the Hebrew Matthew, the Gospel according to the Hebrews (see Bk. III. chap. 25, note 24), our canonical Gospel of Mark, or an original Mark, resembling the present one a number of fragmentary documents have been assumed while others, finally, have admitted only oral tradition as the basis. According to Baur’s tendency theory, Matthew (polemically Jewish-Christian) came first, followed by an original Luke (polemically Pauline-Christian), then by our Mark, which was based upon both and written in the interest of neutrality, and lastly by our present Luke, designed as a final irenicum. This view now finds few advocates. The whole matter is still unsettled, but criticism seems to be gradually converging toward a common ground type (or rather two independent types) for all three while at the same time maintaining the relative independence of the three, one toward the other. What these ground types were, is a matter of still sharper dispute, although criticism is gradually drawing their larger features with more and more certainty and clearness. (The latest discussion upon the subject by Handmann, das Hebräer-Evangelium, makes the two types the “Ur-Marcus” and the Gospel of the Hebrews.) That in the last analysis, however, some space must still be left for floating tradition, or for documents irreducible to the one or two types, seems absolutely certain. For further information as to the state of discussion upon this intricate problem, see among recent works, especially Weiss, Einleitung, p. 473 sqq., Holtzmann, Einleitung, p. 328 sqq., and Schaff, Ch. Hist. I. 575 sqq., where the literature down to 1882 is given with great fullness. Conservative opinion puts the composition of all the synoptic Gospels before the destruction of Jerusalem (for the date of Luke, see III. 4, note 12) but the critical school, while throwing the original type back of that date, considers the composition of our present Gospels to have been the gradual work of years, assuming that they were not finally crystallized into the form in which we have them before the second century.

2. And they say that Peter when he had learned, through a revelation of the Spirit, of that which had been done, was pleased with the zeal of the men, and that the work obtained the sanction of his authority for the purpose of being used in the churches. 391 391 This mention of the “pleasure” of Peter, and the “authority” given by him to the work of Mark, contradicts the account of Clement to which Eusebius here appeals as his authority. In Bk. VI. chap. 14 he quotes from the Hypotyposes of Clement, a passage which must be identical with the one referred to in this place, for it is from the same work and the general account is the same but there Clement says expressly, “which when Peter understood he neither directly hindered nor encouraged it.” Clement in the eighth book of his Hypotyposes gives this account, and with him agrees the bishop of Hierapolis named Papias. 392 392 The passage from Papias is quoted below in Bk. III. chap. 39. Papias is a witness to the general fact that Mark wrote down what he had heard from Peter, but not (so far as he is extant) to the details of the account as given by Eusebius. Upon Papias himself, see Bk. III. chap. 39. And Peter makes mention of Mark in his first epistle which they say that he wrote in Rome itself, as is indicated by him, when he calls the city, by a figure, Babylon, as he does in the following words: “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you and so doth Marcus my son.” 393 393 1 Pet. v. 13. Commentators are divided as to the place in which Peter wrote this epistle (compare Schaff’s Church Hist. I. p. 744 sqq.). The interpretation given by Eusebius is the patristic and Roman Catholic opinion, and is maintained by many Protestant commentators. But on the other hand the literal use of the word “Babylon” is defended by a great number of the leading scholars of the present day. Compare Weiss, N. T. Einleitung, p. 433, note 1.

Roman Empire under Constantine

Constantine (also known with the ending "the Great"), lived from February 27, 272 to May 22, 337 A.D. He ruled as Emperor from 306 to 337 A.D. After his vision in Gaul in 312 A.D., whereby he is said to have become a Christian, Constantine became the first Roman ruler to treat favorably those who stated they were Christians.

History states that Constantine saw a flaming cross in the sky before an important battle with Maxentius (the then current Roman Emperor) and, taking it as a sign from God, went on to be victorious. There is, however, more to the story of what actually occurred.

"But exactly when Constantine had the vision of a sun cross, and what he believed it to mean, is unclear. What is well documented, however, is the vision's association with the evolved cult of the Sol Invictus (Sun worship), which had become quite popular among soldiers of the Roman army of that day . . .

"An obvious extension of the long established worship of the sun god, Baal, the phrase 'Sol Invictus' became a familiar battle cry, when soldiers in times of war appealed for the help of their invincible god, the sun (Baal). So for Constantine to say that in the conquest of his rival, Maxentius, he had a vision or dream from God . . . is, to say the least, highly suspicious" (Music of the Appointed Times by Dwight Blevins, page 22)

Constantine, through his Edict of Milan in 313 A.D., halted 246 years of state sponsored persecution against those who believed in Jesus Christ as the Messiah. He also subsequently stopped the bloody practice of slaves, criminals and even citizens of Rome doing battle with each other as entertainment for the masses.

A total of ten Roman-backed persecutions took place before the reign of Constantine. The first one occurred during Emperor Nero's reign in 67 A.D. The second took place under Domitian in 81 A.D. The next were under Trajan in 108, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus in 162, Severus in 192, Maximus in 235, Decius in 249, Emperor Valerian in 257 and Aurelian in 274. The tenth of ten state-sponsored persecution took place under the reign of Diocletian in 303 A.D.

Emperor Constantine, after coming to power, wanted to build a 'new Rome' somewhere in the east since that was where the Empire's economic life in the fourth century was centered. He eventually selected a spot on the Bosphorus called Byzantium.

Watch the video: Κωνσταντίνος ο πολιτευμένος - (August 2022).