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A small  cross of gold foil, with rubbings of coins of Justin II (Emperor: 565-574) and holes for nails or thread, Italian, 6th century
A small cross of gold foil, with rubbings of coins of Justin II (Emperor: 565-574) and holes for nails or thread, Italian, 6th century

Caesaropapism /ˌszərˈppɪzəm/ is the idea of combining the  power of secular government with the religious power, or of making secular authority superior to the spiritual authority of the Church; especially concerning the connection of the Church with government. Justus Henning Böhmer (1674–1749) may have originally coined the term caesaropapism (Cäseropapismus).[1] Max Weber (1864-1920) wrote: "a secular, caesaropapist ruler... exercises supreme authority in ecclesiastic matters by virtue of his autonomous legitimacy".[2] According to Weber's political sociology, caesaropapism entails "the complete subordination of priests to secular power."[3]

In its extreme form, caesaropapism is a political theory in which the head of state, notably the emperor ("Caesar", by extension a "superior" king), is also the supreme head of the church (pope or analogous religious leader). In this form, caesaropapism inverts theocracy (or hierocracy in Weber) in which institutions of the church control the state. Both caesaropapism and theocracy are systems in which there is no separation of church and state and in which the two form parts of a single power-structure.

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  • ✪ Fall of The Roman Empire...in the 15th Century: Crash Course World History #12
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Transcription

Hi there, my name’s John Green; this is crash course: world history, and today we’re going to talk about the fall of Rome. Mr. Green, Mr. Green, Mr. Green! Who’s that pretty lady? That lady, me-from-the-past, is Emperor Justinian. We’ll get to him in a minute. [music intro] [music intro] [music intro] [music intro] [music intro] [music intro] How and when Rome fell remains the subject of considerable historical debate— but today I’m going to argue that the Rome didn’t really fully fall until the middle of the 15th century. But first, let me introduce you to The Traditional View: Barbarians at the Gates. My, don’t you look traditional? If you want to be really technical about it, the city of Rome was conquered by bar bar bar barbarians in 476 CE. There was a last Roman Emperor Romulus Augustus, who ruled the empire for less than a year before being deposed and sent into exile by Odoacer, who was some kind of barbarian- we don’t know for sure. Ostrogoth, Hun, Visigoth, Vandals; they all looked the same to the Romans. Rome had been sacked by barbarians before, most notably by Alaric the Visigoth in 410- Is it Uh-lar-ick or Uh-lair-ick? The dictionary says Uh-lair-ick but The Vampire Diaries say Uh-lar-ick so I’m going to go with Uh-lar-ick. But anyway, after 476, there was never again a “Roman” emperor in Rome. Then there’s the hipper anti-imperialistic argument— that’s nice, but if you really want to go full hipster you should probably deny that you’re being hipst— right, exactly—which goes like this: Rome was doomed to fall as soon as it spread outside of Italy because the further the territory is from the capital, the harder it is to govern. Thus imperialism itself sowed the seeds of destruction in Rome. This was the argument put forth by the Roman historian Tacitus, although he put it in the mouth of a British chieftain. That sounded dirty, but it’s not, it’s all about context here on Crash Course: "To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a desert and call it peace.” There are two ways to overcome this governance problem: First, you rule with the proverbial topaz fist— that’s not the proverb? Really, Stan? It’s an iron fist? But topaz is much harder than iron. Don’t these people know their Mohs scale of mineral hardness?.. Regardless, the Romans couldn’t do this because their whole identity was wrapped up in an idea of justice that precluded indiscriminate violence. The other strategy is to try to incorporate conquered people into the empire more fully: In Rome’s case, to make them Romans. This worked really well in the early days of the Republic and even at the beginning of the Empire. But it eventually led to Barbarians inside the Gates. The decline of the legions started long before Rome started getting sacked. It really began with the extremely bad decision to incorporate Germanic warriors into the Roman Army. Rome had a long history of absorbing people from the empire’s fringes into the polity first by making them allies and then eventually by granting them full citizenship rights. But usually these “foreign” citizens had developed ties to Rome itself; they learned Latin, they bought into the whole idea of the aristocratic republic. But by the 3rd and 4th centuries CE, though, the empire had been forced to allow the kind of riffraff into their army who didn’t really care about the idea of Rome itself. They were only loyal to their commanders. —And as you no doubt remember from the historical examples of Caesar, Pompey, Marius, contemporary Afghanistan— this is not a recipe for domestic bliss. So here is Rome, stuck with a bunch of expensive and bloody wars against Germanic peoples who were really good at fighting and then they had a great idea: Why not fight with these guys? So they essentially hired them and soon the Roman Legions were teeming with these mercenaries who were loyal mostly to gold, secondarily to their commanders, and not at all to Rome which is a place that very few of them ever even saw. I mean, why would they give a crap about the health and well-being of the empire? Am I allowed to say crap, Stan? Nice. This was of course a recipe for civil war, and that’s exactly what happened with general after general after general declaring himself Emperor of Rome. So there was very little stability in the West. For instance, between 235 and 284 CE, 41 different people were either emperor or claimed to be emperor. And after the year 200, many of the generals who were powerful enough to proclaim themselves emperors weren’t even Roman. In fact, a lot of them didn’t speak much Latin. Oddly enough, one of the best symbols of the new face of the Roman Empire was sartorial. Instead of the traditional tunic and toga of the glory days of the Senate, most of the new general-emperors adopted that most practical and most barbaric of garments: pants. Oh, which reminds me, it’s time for the Open Letter. An Open Letter to Pants: Dear Pants, Although you eventually became a symbol of patriarchal oppression, in your early days you were worn by both men and women. And in the days of the Roman Republic, they hated you. They thought you barbarous. They thought that people wearing you was the definition of people lacking civilization. They ventured north and the wind blew up through their togas and lo and behold, they adopted pants. And there’s a history lesson in that, pants, which is that when people have to choose between civilization and warm genitals, they choose warm genitals. Best Wishes, John Green And now a note from our sponsor: Today’s episode of crash course is brought o you by the all-new Oldsmobile Byzantium, mixing power and luxury in a way- Really? Oldsmobile isn’t a company anymore? And Byzantium is a place? Are you sure? So remember when I said the Roman Empire survived til the 15th century? Well that was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly known as the Byzantine Empire (although not by the people who lived in it who identified themselves as Romans). So while the Western empire descended into chaos, the eastern half of the Empire had its capital in Byzantium, a city on the Bosporus Strait that Constantine would later rename Constantinople, thereby paving the way for They Might Be Giants only mainstream hit. Constantine had lots of reasons to move his capitol east. For one thing he was born in modern-day Croatia, also he probably spoke better Greek than Latin, and plus the eastern provinces were a lot richer than the Western provinces and from a looting perspective, you just want to be closer to where the good warring is. The enemies in the East, like the Persian Parthians and the Persian Sassanians, were real empires, not just bands of warriors. And no matter who you were in world history, if you wanted to make a name for yourself in terms of war, you really needed to be up against the Persians. EVEN IF you were— wait for it— the Mongols. Not this time, friends. As the political center of the Roman Empire shifted east, Constantine also tried to re-orient his new religion, Christianity, toward the east, holding the first Church council in Nicaea in 325. The idea was to get all Christians to believe the same thing- that worked- but it did mark the beginning of the emperor having greater control over the Church. That trend would of course later lead to tensions between the church centered at Constantinople and the one centered in Rome. But, more on that in a bit. To give you a sense of how dramatic this shift was, by the 4th century CE, Constantinople’s population had soared while Rome’s had gone from 500,000 to 80,000. And although the Byzantines spoke Greek not Latin, they considered themselves Romans and if they did then we probably should too. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. There was a lot of continuity between the old, Western Roman Empire, and the new, Eastern one. Politically, each was ruled by a single (sometimes there were two, and once there were four– but let’s forget about them for now) who wielded absolute military power. War was pretty much constant as the Byzantines fought the Persian Sassanian Empire and then various Islamic empires. Trade and valuable agricultural land that yielded high taxes meant that the Byzantine Empire was like the Western Roman Empire, exceptionally rich, and it was slightly more compact as a territory than its predecessor and much more urban, containing as it did all of those once independent Greek city states, which made it easier to administer. Also like their Western counterparts, the Byzantines enjoyed spectacle and sport. Chariot races in Constantinople were huge, with thousands turning out at the Hippodrome to cheer on their favorites. Big bets were placed and there was a huge rivalry not just about sports but also about political affiliations between the two main teams, the Blues and the Greens- Thanks for putting us on the Greens, Thought Bubble. That rivalry was so heated that riots often broke out between them. In one such riot, an estimated 30,000 people were killed. Thanks Thought Bubble. But perhaps the most consistently Roman aspect of Byzantine society was that they followed Roman law. The Romans always prided themselves on being ruled by laws, not by men, and even though that’s not actually the case after the second century BCE, there’s no question that the Eastern Roman Empire’s codification of Roman laws was one of it’s greatest achievements. And much of the credit for that goes to the most famous Byzantine Emperor, at least after Constantine, Justinian. I like your brooch, sir. In 533 Justinian published the Digest, an 800,000-word condensation of 1,528 Latin law books. And to go along with this he published the Institutes, which was like a curriculum for the Roman law schools that existed all through the Empire. Justinian, incidentally, was by far the most awesome of the Byzantine emperors. He was like the David Tennant of doctors. He was born a peasant somewhere in the Balkans and than rose to became emperor in 527. He ruled for almost 30 years and in addition to codifying Roman law, he did a lot to restore the former glory of the Roman Empire. He took Carthage back, he even took Rome back from the Goths, although not for long. And he’s responsible for the building of one of the great churches in all of time— which is now a mosque— the Hagia Sophia or Church of Saint Wisdom. So after one of those sporting riots destroyed the previous church, he built this, which with its soaring domes became a symbol for the wealth and opulence of his empire. The Romans were remarkable builders and engineers and the Hagia Sophia is no exception: a dome its equal wouldn’t be build for another 500 years. But you would never mistake it for a Roman temple; It doesn’t have the austerity or the emphasis on engineering that you see, for instance, the Coliseum. And this building in many ways functions a symbol for the ways the Eastern Roman Empire was both Roman and not. But maybe the most interesting thing Justinian ever did was be married to his controversial Theater Person of a wife, Theodora. Hey Danica, can we get Theodora up here? Wow that is perfect. It’s funny how married couples always look like each other. Theodora began her career as an actress, dancer, and possible prostitute before become Empress. And she may have saved her husband’s rule by convincing him not to flee the city during riots between the Blues and Greens. She also mentored a eunuch who went on to become a hugely important general- Mentoring a eunuch sounds like a euphemism, but it’s not. And she fought to expand the rights of women in divorce and property ownership, and even had a law passed taking the bold stance that adulterous women should not be executed. So, in short, the Byzantines continued the Roman legacy of empire and war and law for almost 1000 years after Romulus Augustus was driven out of Rome. The Byzantines may not have spoken Latin, and few of their emperors came from Rome, but in most important ways they were Romans. Except one REALLY IMPORTANT way. The Byzantines followed a different form of Christianity, the branch we now call Eastern or sometimes Greek Orthodox. How there came to be a split between the Catholic and Orthodox traditions is complicated – you might even say Byzantine. What matters for us are the differences between the churches, the main doctrinal one being about the dating of Easter, and the main political one being about who rules whom. Did I get my whom right there, Stan? YES! In the West there was a Pope and in the East there was a Patriarch. The Pope is the head of the Roman Catholic Church. He sort of serves as god’s regent on earth and he doesn’t answer to any secular ruler. And ever since the fall of Rome, there has been a lot of tension in Western Europe between Popes and kings over who should have the real power. But in the Orthodox church they didn’t have that problem because the Patriarch was always appointed by the Emperor. So it was pretty clear who had control over the church, so much that they even have a word for it- caesaropapism: Caesar over Pope. But the fact that in Rome there was no emperor after 476 meant there was no one to challenge the Pope, which would profoundly shape European history over the next, like, 1200 years. So I would argue that in some important ways, the Roman Empire survived for a thousand years after it left Rome, but in some ways it still survives today. It survives in our imagination when we think of this as east and this as west; It survives in football rivalries that have their roots in religious conflicts; and it survives in the Justinian law code which continues to be the basis for much of civil law in Europe. Next week we’ll talk about the emergence of Islam over here... How’d I do, Stan? Well, you can’t win ‘em all. Thanks for watching. Crash Course is produced and directed by Stan Muller, our script supervisor is Danica Johnson. The show is written by my high school history teacher Raoul Meyer and myself and our graphics team is Thought Bubble. Last week’s Phrase of the Week was “Aristotelian logic”. You can guess this week’s Phrase of the Week or suggest new ones in Comments, where you can also ask questions that our team of historians will endeavor to answer. Thanks for watching, and as we say in my hometown, Don’t forget to be awesome.

Contents

Caesaropapism in the Eastern Church

Caesaropapism's chief example is the authority that the Byzantine (East Roman) Emperors had over the Church of Constantinople and Eastern Christianity from the 330 consecration of Constantinople through the tenth century.[4][5] The Byzantine Emperor would typically protect the Eastern Church and manage its administration by presiding over Ecumenical Councils and appointing Patriarchs and setting territorial boundaries for their jurisdiction.[6] The Emperor exercised a strong control over the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and the Patriarch of Constantinople could not hold office if he did not have the Emperor's approval.[7] Such Emperors as Basiliscus, Zeno, Justinian I, Heraclius, and Constans II published several strictly ecclesiastical edicts either on their own without the mediation of church councils, or they exercised their own political influence on the councils to issue the edicts.[8] According to Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, the historical reality of caesaropapism stems from the confusion of the Byzantine Empire with the Kingdom of God and the zeal of the Byzantines "to establish here on earth a living icon of God's government in heaven."[9]

However, Caesaropapism "never became an accepted principle in Byzantium."[10] Several Eastern churchmen such as John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople[6] and Athanasius, Patriarch of Alexandria, strongly opposed imperial control over the Church, as did Western theologians like Hilary of Poitiers and Hosius, Bishop of Córdoba.[11] Saints, such as Maximus the Confessor, resisted the imperial power as a consequence of their witness to orthodoxy. In addition, at several occasions imperial decrees had to be withdrawn as the people of the Church, both lay people, monks and priests, refused to accept inventions at variance with the Church's customs and beliefs. These events show that power over the Church really was in the hands of the Church itself – not solely with the emperor.[12]

Caesaropapism was most notorious in the Tsardom of Russia when Ivan IV the Terrible assumed the title Czar in 1547 and subordinated the Russian Orthodox Church to the state.[13] This level of caesaropapism far exceeded that of the Byzantine Empire[14] and was taken to a new level in 1721, when Peter the Great replaced the patriarchate with a Holy Synod, making the church a department of his government.

The patriarchate was restored on November 10 (October 28 O.S.), 1917, 3 days after the Bolshevik Revolution, by decision of the All-Russian Local Council.

Caesaropapism in the Western Church

The Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy combines Western and Byzantine elements.
The Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy combines Western and Byzantine elements.

Justinian I conquered the Italian peninsula in the Gothic War (535–554) and appointed the next three popes, a practice that would be continued by his successors and later be delegated to the Exarchate of Ravenna. The Byzantine Papacy was a period of Byzantine domination of the papacy from 537 to 752, when popes required the approval of the Byzantine Emperor for episcopal consecration, and many popes were chosen from the apocrisiarii (liaisons from the pope to the emperor) or the inhabitants of Byzantine Greece, Byzantine Syria, or Byzantine Sicily.

Analogue in the Church of England

When Henry VIII of England declared the Church of England to exist as an entity separate from and independent of the Roman Church, he declared himself to be the "Supreme Head" of that church, to which declaration the English Parliament acceded by passing the Act of Supremacy 1534 at Henry's behest. When Elizabeth I restored royal supremacy, she replaced the title "Supreme Head" with that of "Supreme Governor", a change both conciliatory to English Catholics on a political level and reflecting a shift toward a more metaphysically and theologically modest stance involving only a claim to supreme authority over the Church of England's conduct in temporal matters. Since then, the monarchs of England, of Great Britain, and of the United Kingdom have claimed the "Supreme Governor" status as well as the title of Defender of the Faith (which was originally bestowed on Henry VIII by Pope Leo X but later revoked by Pope Paul III).

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Kenneth Pennington, "Caesaropapism," The New Catholic Encyclopedia: Supplement 2010 (2 Vols. Detroit: Gale Publishers 2010) 1.183-185 Archived 2013-10-29 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Swedberg, Richard; Agevall, Ola (2005). The Max Weber Dictionary: Key Words and Central Concepts. Stanford Social Sciences Series. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. p. 22. ISBN 9780804750950. Retrieved 2017-02-02. Weber's formal definition of caesaropapism in Economy and Society reads as follows: 'a secular, caesaropapist ruler... exercises supreme authority in ecclesiastic matters by virtue of his autonomous legitimacy.
  3. ^ Swedberg, Richard; Agevall, Ola (2005). The Max Weber Dictionary: Key Words and Central Concepts. Stanford Social Sciences Series. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. p. 22. ISBN 9780804750950. Retrieved 2017-02-02. Caesaropapism entails 'the complete subordination of priests to secular power,' and it essentially means that church matters have become part of political administration [...].
  4. ^ Cross, F.L.; Livingstone, E.A. (1983), Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (2nd ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 218
  5. ^ Douglas, J.D. (1978), The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church (revised ed.), Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, p. 173
  6. ^ a b Encyclopædia Britannica, II, 1985, pp. 718–719
  7. ^ Latourette, Kenneth Scott (1975), A History of Christianity to A.D. 1500, I (revised ed.), San Francisco: Harper & Row, pp. 283, 312
  8. ^ Schaff, Philip (1974), History of the Christian Church: Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity: A.D. 311-600, II (5th ed.), Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, p. 135
  9. ^ Ware, Timothy (1980), The Orthodox Church (revised ed.), New York: Penguin Books, p. 50
  10. ^ Meyendorff, John (1983), Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes (rev. 2nd ed.), New York: Fordham University Press, p. 6
  11. ^ Dawson, Christopher (1956), The Making of Europe (2nd ed.), New York: Meridian Books, pp. 109–110
  12. ^ Meyendorff, John (1983), Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes (rev. 2nd ed.), New York: Fordham University Press, p. 5
  13. ^ Bainton, Roland H. (1966), Christendom: A Short History of Christianity, I, New York: Harper & Row, p. 119
  14. ^ Billington, James H. (1966), The Icon and the Axe: An Interpretive History of Russian Culture, New York: Random House, p. 67
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