Euthymius I Syncellus
|Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople|
|Died||5 August 917|
"ta Agathou", near Constantinople
(modern-day İstanbul, Turkey)
Euthymius I Syncellus (Greek : Εὐθύμιος Α΄ ὁ Σύγκελλος, c. 834 – 5 August 917) was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 907 to 912. A monk since his youth, he became spiritual father of the future emperor Leo VI the Wise, and was raised by him to the high ecclesiastical office of syncellus . Despite his turbulent relationship with Leo, in 907 he was appointed to the patriarchate and held the post until his deposition shortly before or after Leo's death in 912.
Euthymius was born in Seleucia in Isauria c. 834, and became a monk at an early age. According to his funeral oration, composed by Arethas of Caesarea, he was a relative of the "miracle-worker" Gregory of Dekapolis. Following stints at the monastic community of Mount Olympus and a monastery near Nicomedia, Euthymius came to the Byzantine capital, Constantinople, where he entered the monastery of St. Theodore, in the capital's outskirts. Euthymius had a relationship with the Patriarch Ignatius, whom he alludes to as his master, and it is probably during Ignatius' second tenure on the patriarchal throne (867–877) that he was appointed as the spiritual father of the prince Leo, the son of Emperor Basil I the Macedonian (r. 867–886) and future emperor as Leo VI the Wise (r. 886–912). Indeed, the historian Shaun Tougher argues in his study of Leo's reign that Euthymius was possibly the spiritual father of all of Basil's sons. Euthymius supported Leo in his conflict with his father over his affair with Zoe Zaoutzaina. According to Euthymius' hagiography, the Vita Euthymii, he helped Leo survive his imprisonment in 883–886, while the young prince constantly requested his advice, forcing him to stay in Constantinople rather than his monastery.
At the time of Basil's death in 886, Euthymius was a monk in the monastery of the Theotokos of the Spring.With Leo's accession to the throne, Euthymius was rewarded by being appointed as abbot of a newly built monastery in the Psamathia quarter in Constantinople, built on land confiscated from the exiled Leo Katakalon. According to the Vita Euthymii, he accepted only after the emperor agreed to recall Katakalon from exile and restore to him the rest of his properties. The monastery was inaugurated on 6 May 889 or 890 in the presence of Leo and the latter's brother, Stephen, who since December 886 was Patriarch of Constantinople. At about the same time (according to P. Karlin-Hayter in late 888 or early 889 ) he was also named to the post of syncellus , succeeding Stephen, who had held the post in tandem with the patriarchate since 886. This was an important office in the Byzantine ecclesiastical hierarchy, and several of its holders had subsequently advanced to the patriarchate.
Despite his closeness to the new emperor, Euthymius' relationship with Leo was "notoriously stormy" (Shaun Tougher), and perhaps explains why did not succeed to the patriarchal throne until 907.The Vita Euthymii also assigns much of the blame for Euthymius's troubled relation with the emperor on the machinations of Zoe Zaoutzaina's father, Stylianos Zaoutzes. Zaoutzes' rivalry with Euthymius is a major theme of his hagiography, where the former is represented as an all-powerful minister whose ambitions and machinations are responsible for all errors and calamities of the reign, and with whom Euthymius was engaged in a battle "for the prize of Leo's soul". How far Stylianos' reported dominance reflects reality is questioned by Tougher, who points out that from the historical sources, Leo does not seem to have simply followed Stylianos' initiative, but to have retained control of affairs throughout his reign. Euthymius has also been seen by modern scholars as an advocate of the traditional aristocracy, and at odds with Leo's "foreign" (i.e. non-Byzantine Greek and non-aristocratic) advisers, such as the Armenian Zaoutzes, the Arab eunuch chamberlain Samonas, or the Italian Nicholas Mystikos, who preceded Euthymius on the patriarchal throne, although this probably has more to do with the obvious effort of the Vita to present Euthymius as a perfect saint, which leads it to denigrate his rivals.
Euthymius first incurred Leo's displeasure when he supported his first wife, Theophano, and dissuaded her from seeking a divorce due to the emperor's neglect and his continued cohabitation with his long-time mistress Zoe Zaoutzaina.After Theophano's death, Euthymius opposed Leo's second marriage to Zoe Zaoutzaina due to her ill repute, which earned him a two-year confinement in the monastery of St. Diomedes. He was not released until after Zoe's death two years later. Following Zoe's death after giving birth to a daughter, Anna, Leo pursued a—normally un-canonical—third marriage, to Eudokia Baïana, in hopes of having a male heir. Indeed, a boy named Basil was born in Easter 901, but Eudokia died during childbirth and was soon followed by the baby. This was once more the occasion of a clash between the emperor and Euthymius. The Vita asserts that following the death of Zoe and her father, as well as the discovery of a conspiracy by their relatives, Leo had repented of his treatment of Euthymius and asked for his forgiveness. The emperor repeatedly sought his counsel, going as far as visiting him incognito at the monastery in Psamathia. During one of the visits, Euthymius prophesied Eudokia's death, and later refused to attend her funeral, retiring with six followers from Constantinople to the suburb of "ta Agathou", a property of his monastery.
Undeterred, the emperor took a mistress, Zoe Karbonopsina, and in September 905 he was finally able to celebrate the birth of the future emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos. The fact that the child's mother was the emperor's mistress caused trouble with leading Church officials, and Leo was forced to promise to separate from Zoe as a precondition for the infant's ceremonial baptism by Patriarch Nicholas Mystikos in the Hagia Sophia. Euthymius too was persuaded to act as one of Constantine's godfathers in the ceremony, which took place in January 906.Despite his pledge to separate from Zoe, however, Leo now was determined to legitimize both her and their son by a fourth marriage, something utterly forbidden by canon law on pain of excommunication. Patriarch Nicholas initially supported the emperor in his efforts to secure a grant of economy, but the Church leadership was vehemently opposed, forcing Nicholas too to change sides. As the impasse continued, in February 907 Nicholas was dismissed by the emperor, and Euthymius was appointed in his stead. The Vita explains Nicholas' stance and his final deposition by his implication in the abortive plot of general Andronikos Doukas, but other sources are silent as to the exact background of the affair.
Despite Euthymius' notorious stubbornness, which probably had discouraged Leo from raising him to the patriarchate sooner, he proved willing to grant the emperor economy, aided by the assent of the other patriarchates of the Pentarchy. Despite Zoe's repeated efforts, however, he steadfastly refused to officially recognize her marriage with the emperor as canonical and her status as empress. Leo was forced to do penance to atone for his marriage, and to pass a law excluding anyone from ever again marrying for a fourth time. As a result of the settlement, on 15 May 908 Euthymius crowned the infant Constantine VII as co-emperor.Even though the later Byzantine chroniclers tend to side with Nicholas Mystikos against Leo, they paint Euthymius in a favourable light. According to the Vita, his tenure helped heal the rift in the Church and reconcile many leading churchmen with the emperor's fourth marriage. Bishop Gabriel of Ancyra is even said to have sent the omophorion of Saint Clement as a gift and a token of appreciation.
Shortly before Leo's death in May 912, the emperor reconciled himself with Nicholas Mystikos, who now demanded his re-instatement as Patriarch.The sources are unclear, but shortly after Leo's death, or perhaps already before, Euthymius was deposed by a synod convened at Magnaura in favour of Nicholas, who was recalled from exile. Euthymius was exiled to Agathou, where he died on 5 August 917.
Euthymius' hagiography, the Vita Euthymii, or The Life of Euthymius, was apparently written in the years 920/25 according to P. Karlin-Hayter, or, according to D. Sophianos, soon after 932. Its author is unknown, but, in the words of Shaun Tougher, "he had an insider's perspective on court affairs during [Leo VI's] reign", and is consequently one of the "richest sources for the period from the death of Basil I to the early years of Constantine VII" (Alexander Kazhdan). However, despite offering a vivid portrait of Leo and his court, with eye-witness anecdotes that illustrate the emperor's character, as a source it is limited due to its focus on, and bias in favour of, Euthymius, as well as due to the fact that several sections are missing.The single surviving manuscript was kept in Berlin and vanished during World War II, but the Vita exists in several critical editions:
Euthymius' own writings are few and relatively insignificant, comprising sermons on the conception of St. Anne and an homily on the Virgin Mary.His contemporary Arethas of Caesarea also wrote a panegyric in his honour, but according to Kazhdan "it is conventional and provides only limited data".
Photios I, also spelled Photius, was the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople from 858 to 867 and from 877 to 886. He is recognized in the Eastern Orthodox Church as Saint Photios the Great.
Nicholas I Mystikos or Nicholas I Mysticus was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from March 901 to February 907 and from May 912 to his death in 925. His feast day in the Eastern Orthodox Church is 16 May.
Michael III was Byzantine Emperor from 842 to 867. Michael III was the third and traditionally last member of the Amorian dynasty. He was given the disparaging epithet the Drunkard by the hostile historians of the succeeding Macedonian dynasty, but modern historical research has rehabilitated his reputation to some extent, demonstrating the vital role his reign played in the resurgence of Byzantine power in the 9th century.
Leo VI, called the Wise, was Byzantine Emperor from 886 to 912. The second ruler of the Macedonian dynasty, he was very well read, leading to his epithet. During his reign, the renaissance of letters, begun by his predecessor Basil I, continued; but the Empire also saw several military defeats in the Balkans against Bulgaria and against the Arabs in Sicily and the Aegean. His reign also witnessed the formal discontinuation of several ancient Roman institutions, such as the separate office of Roman consul.
Alexander Porphyrogenitus was briefly Byzantine emperor from 912 to 913, and the third emperor of the Macedonian dynasty.
Zoe Karbonopsina, also Karvounopsina or Carbonopsina, lit. 'with the Coal-Black Eyes', was a Byzantine Greek empress consort and regent of the Byzantine empire. She was the fourth spouse of the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI the Wise and the mother of Constantine VII, serving as his regent from 914 until 919.
The Macedonian dynasty ruled the Byzantine Empire from 867 to 1056, following the Amorian dynasty. During this period, the Byzantine state reached its greatest extent since the Muslim conquests, and the Macedonian Renaissance in letters and arts began. The dynasty was named after its founder, Basil I the Macedonian who came from the theme of Macedonia, which, at the time, was part of Thrace.
Zoe Zaoutzaina was a Byzantine empress consort as the second wife of the Byzantine emperor Leo VI the Wise. She was the daughter of Stylianos Zaoutzes, a high-ranking bureaucrat during the reign of her husband.
Theophano Martinakia was a Byzantine Empress by marriage to Leo VI the Wise. She is venerated as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Stylianos Zaoutzes was a high Byzantine official of Armenian origin. Rising to high rank under Byzantine emperor Basil I, he then rose further to prominence under Basil's successor Emperor Leo VI the Wise, who had a close friendship and possibly an affair with Stylianos's daughter Zoe Zaoutzaina. Stylianos Zaoutzes was Leo's leading minister during the first half of his reign, and was awarded the unique title of basileopator. His standing and influence declined after 895, but in 898, he became Leo's father-in-law when the Byzantine emperor married Zoe. He died in 899, in the same year as Zoe. Following an attempted coup by his relatives, the Zaoutzes clan was deprived of the considerable power it had amassed under Stylianos's tutelage.
Andronikos Doukas or Doux was a Byzantine general and rebel in the reign of Emperor Leo VI the Wise. The first member of the illustrious Doukas line to achieve prominence as a successful general, his rivalry with the powerful eunuch Samonas led to his revolt and eventual defection to the Arabs in 906–907. He died in exile in Baghdad.
Samonas was an Arab-born eunuch, who was captured by the Byzantines and became one of the most influential officials of the Byzantine Empire during the first decade of the 10th century.
Constantine Doukas was a prominent Byzantine general. In 904, he stopped the influential eunuch court official Samonas from defecting to the Arabs. In return, Samonas manipulated his father, Andronikos Doukas, into rebelling and fleeing to the Abbasid court in 906/7. Constantine followed his father to Baghdad, but soon escaped and returned to Byzantium, where he was restored by Leo VI the Wise to favour and entrusted with high military offices. Upon the death of the Emperor Alexander, Constantine with the support of several aristocrats unsuccessfully tried to usurp the throne from the young Constantine VII, but was killed in a clash with supporters of the legitimate emperor.
The mystikos was an important Byzantine office of the imperial chancery from the 9th through to the 15th centuries. Its initial role is unclear; he was probably the Byzantine emperor's private secretary. In time, the office also exercised judicial duties. It became an important fiscal official in the Komnenian period, and remained one of the highest-ranking state offices into the Palaiologan period as well.
Leo Choirosphaktes, sometimes Latinized as Choerosphactes and also known as Leo Magistros or Leo Magister, was a Byzantine official who rose to high office under Emperor Basil I the Macedonian and served as an envoy under Emperor Leo VI the Wise to Bulgaria and the Abbasid Caliphate. Choirosphaktes was also a well-educated and prominent scholar and writer, many of whose works and correspondence survive.
Euthymius of Sardis was metropolitan bishop of Sardis between ca. 785 and ca. 804, and a leading iconophile during the period of Byzantine Iconoclasm. Martyred in 831, he is a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church, celebrated on 26 December.
John Eladas was a senior member of the Byzantine court and regent in the early 10th century.
The magistrosStephen was a relative of Empress Theodora and a high-ranking courtier in the Byzantine court of the late 9th and early 10th centuries.
Constantine, surnamed Barbaros, was a Byzantine eunuch servant who rose to become parakoimomenos of the Byzantine emperor Leo VI the Wise in 911–912, displacing his own former master, Samonas. He held again the post during the regency of Zoe Karbonopsina in 913–919, where he played an important role in the governance of the state. He lost his post after he supported his relative Leo Phokas the Elder in his unsuccessful rivalry with Romanos I Lekapenos over control of the throne, but he was later appointed to the post of primikerios by Lekapenos.
Constantine was a junior Byzantine emperor from January 868 to 3 September 879. His parentage is a matter of debate, but he is generally assumed to be the son of Byzantine Emperor Basil I and his first wife, Maria or second wife Eudokia Ingerina; although other theories include him being the son of Emperor Michael III and Eudokia. Constantine was made co-emperor by his father in c. January 868. He was engaged to Ermengard of Italy, the daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Louis II, in 870/871, but it is not known if he ever married her; some sources take the affirmative stance, while others argue there is no concrete evidence. As emperor, he served in several campaigns alongside his father, including one in Syria, for which he shared a triumph.