Theophanes the Confessor

Last updated
Saint

Theophanes
Image Theopanes nicea.png
Confessor
Bornc. 758–760
Constantinople
Died12 March 817 (aged 57–59)
Samothrace
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church; Eastern Orthodox Church
Feast 12 March (Catholic Church); 12 March (Julian Calendar for Orthodox Church)

Theophanes the Confessor (Greek : Θεοφάνης Ὁμολογητής; c. 758/760 – March 12, 817/818) was a member of the Byzantine aristocracy who became a monk and chronicler. He served in the court of Emperor Leo IV the Khazar before taking up the religious life. Theophanes attended the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 and resisted the iconoclasm of Leo V the Armenian, for which he was imprisoned. He died shortly after his release.

Contents

Theophanes is venerated on March 12 in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. (He should not be confused with Theophanes of Nicaea, whose is commemorated on October 11.)

Biography

Theophanes was born in Constantinople of wealthy and noble iconodule parents: Isaac, governor of the islands of the Aegean Sea, and Theodora, of whose family nothing is known. [1] His father died when Theophanes was three years old, and the Byzantine Emperor Constantine V (740–775) subsequently saw to the boy's education and upbringing at the imperial court. Theophanes would hold several offices under Leo IV the Khazar. [2]

He was married at the age of twelve, but convinced his wife to lead a life of virginity. In 799, after the death of his father-in-law, they separated with mutual consent to embrace the religious life. She chose a convent on an island near Constantinople, while he entered the Polychronius Monastery, located in the district of Sigiane (Sigriano), near Cyzicus on the Asian side of the Sea of Marmara. [1] Later, he built a monastery on his own lands on the island of Calonymus (now Calomio), where he acquired a high degree of skill in transcribing manuscripts.

After six years he returned to Sigriano, where he founded an abbey known by the name "of the big settlement" and governed it as abbot. In this position of leadership, he was present at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, and signed its decrees in defense of the veneration of icons. [1]

When Emperor Leo V the Armenian (813–820) resumed his iconoclastic warfare, he ordered Theophanes brought to Constantinople. The Emperor tried in vain to induce him to condemn the same veneration of icons that had been sanctioned by the council. Theophanes was cast into prison and for two years suffered cruel treatment. After his release, he was banished to Samothrace in 817, where overwhelmed with afflictions, he lived only seventeen days. He is credited with many miracles that occurred after his death, [1] which most likely took place on 12 March, the day he is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology . [1]

Chronicle

At the urgent request of his friend George Syncellus, Theophanes undertook the continuation of Syncellus' Chronicle (Χρονογραφία, Chronographia), during the years 810 to 815. [3] The language used occupies a place midway between the stiff ecclesiastical and the vernacular Greek. [4] He arguably made use of three main sources: first, material already prepared by Syncellus; second, he probably made the use of a set of extracts made by Theodore Lector from the works of Socrates Scholasticus, Sozomenus, and Theodoret; and third, the city chronicle of Constantinople. [1] Cyril Mango has argued that Theophanes contributed but little to the chronicle that bears his name, and that the vast bulk of its contents are the work of Syncellus; on this model, Theophanes' main contribution was to cast Syncellus' rough materials together in a unified form.[ citation needed ]

Theophanes' part of the chronicle covered events from the accession of Diocletian in 284 (which is the point where the chronicle of George Syncellus ends) to the downfall of Michael I Rhangabes in 813. This part of the chronicle is valuable for having preserved the accounts of lost authorities on Byzantine history for the seventh and eighth centuries that would be otherwise have been lost. [5]

The work consists of two parts, wherein the first provides a chronological history arranged per annum, and the second contains chronological tables that are regrettably full of inaccuracies. It seems that Theophanes had only prepared the tables, leaving vacant spaces for the proper dates, but that these had been filled out by someone else (Hugo von Hurter, Nomenlator literarius recentioris I, Innsbruck, 1903, 735). In the chronological first part, in addition to reckoning by the years of the world and the Christian era, Theophanes introduces in tabular form the regnal years of the Roman emperors, of the Persian kings and Arab caliphs, and of the five ecumenical patriarchs, a system which leads to considerable confusion, [4] and therefore of little value.

The first part, though lacking in critical insight and chronological accuracy, greatly surpasses the majority of Byzantine chronicles. [6] Theophanes's Chronicle is particularly valuable beginning with the reign of Justin II (565), as in his work, he then drew upon sources that have not survived his times [7]

Theophanes' Chronicle was much used by succeeding chroniclers, and in 873–875 a Latin compilation was made [8] by the papal librarian Anastasius from the chronicles of Nicephorus, George Syncellus, and Theophanes for the use of a deacon named Johannes in the second half of the ninth century and thus was known to Western Europe. [1]

There also survives a further continuation, in six books, of the Chronicle down to the year 961 written by a number of mostly anonymous writers (called Theophanes Continuatus or Scriptores post Theophanem), who undertook the work at the instructions of Constantine Porphyrogenitus. [1]

Notes

Related Research Articles

Leo III the Isaurian Emperor of the Byzantine Empire

Leo III the Isaurian, also known as the Syrian, was the Byzantine emperor from 717 until his death in 741 and founder of the Isaurian dynasty. He put an end to the Twenty Years' Anarchy, a period of great instability in the Byzantine Empire between 695 and 717, marked by the rapid succession of several emperors to the throne. He also successfully defended the Empire against the invading Umayyads and forbade the veneration of icons.

Leo V the Armenian Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans

Leo V the Armenian was Emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 813 to 820. A senior general, he forced his predecessor, Michael I Rangabe, to abdicate and assumed the throne. He ended the decade-long war with the Bulgars, and initiated the second period of Byzantine Iconoclasm. He was assassinated by supporters of Michael the Amorian, one of his most trusted generals, who succeeded him on the throne.

Theodosius III Emperor of the Romans

Theodosius III or Theodosios III was Byzantine Emperor from c. May 715 to 25 March 717. Before rising to power and seizing the throne of the Byzantine Empire, he was a tax collector in Adramyttium. In 715, the Byzantine Navy and the troops of the Opsician Theme revolted against Byzantine Emperor Anastasios II, acclaiming the reluctant Theodosius as Emperor Theodosius III. Theodosius led his troops to Chrysopolis and then Constantinople, seizing the city in November 715, although Anastasios would not surrender until several months later, accepting exile into the monastery in return for safety. Many themes refused to recognize the legitimacy of Theodosius, believing him to be a puppet of the Opsicians, especially the Anatolics and the Armeniacs under their respective strategoi (generals) Leo the Isaurian and Artabasdos.

George Akropolites was a Byzantine Greek historian and statesman born at Constantinople.

Tervel of Bulgaria Khan of Bulgaria

Khan Tervel also called Tarvel, or Terval, or Terbelis in some Byzantine sources, was the khan of Bulgaria during the First Bulgarian Empire at the beginning of the 8th century. In 705 Emperor Justinian II named him caesar, the first foreigner to receive this title. He was raised a pagan like his grandfather Khan Kubrat. but was later possibly baptised by the Byzantine clergy. Tervel played an important role in defeating the Arabs during the Siege of Constantinople in 717–718.

George Synkellos or Syncellus was a Byzantine chronicler and ecclesiastic. He had lived many years in Palestine as a monk, before coming to Constantinople, where he was appointed synkellos to Tarasius, patriarch of Constantinople. He later retired to a monastery to write what was intended to be his great work, a chronicle of world history, Ekloge chronographias, or Extract of Chronography. According to Anastasius Bibliothecarius, George "struggled valiantly against heresy [i.e. Iconoclasm] and received many punishments from the rulers who raged against the rites of the Church", although the accuracy of the claim is suspect.

Battle of Pliska Battle between the First Bulgarian Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire; decisive Bulgarian victory

The Battle of Pliska or Battle of Vărbitsa Pass was a series of battles between troops, gathered from all parts of the Byzantine Empire, led by the Emperor Nicephorus I Genik, and the First Bulgarian Empire, governed by Khan Krum. The Byzantines plundered and burned the Bulgar capital Pliska which gave time for the Bulgarians to block passes in the Balkan Mountains that served as exits out of Bulgaria. The final battle took place on 26 July 811, in some of the passes in the eastern part of the Balkans, most probably the Vărbitsa Pass. There, the Bulgarians used the tactics of ambush and surprise night attacks to effectively trap and immobilize the Byzantine army, thus annihilating almost the whole army, including the Emperor. After the battle, Krum encased Nicephorus's skull in silver, and used it as a cup for wine-drinking. This is one of the best documented instances of the custom of the skull cup.

Anastasius Bibliothecarius or Anastasius the Librarian was bibliothecarius and chief archivist of the Church of Rome and also briefly an Antipope.

George Kodinos or Codinus, also Pseudo-Kodinos, kouropalates in the Byzantine court, is the reputed 14th-century author of three extant works in late Byzantine literature.

Battle of Versinikia battle

The Battle of Versinikia was fought in 813 between the Byzantine Empire and the Bulgarian Empire, near the city of Adrianople (Edirne) in present-day Turkey.

Siege of Constantinople (717–718) combined land and sea offensive by the Arabs of the Umayyad Caliphate against the capital city of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople

The Second Arab siege of Constantinople in 717–718 was a combined land and sea offensive by the Muslim Arabs of the Umayyad Caliphate against the capital city of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople. The campaign marked the culmination of twenty years of attacks and progressive Arab occupation of the Byzantine borderlands, while Byzantine strength was sapped by prolonged internal turmoil. In 716, after years of preparations, the Arabs, led by Maslama ibn Abd al-Malik, invaded Byzantine Asia Minor. The Arabs initially hoped to exploit Byzantine civil strife and made common cause with the general Leo III the Isaurian, who had risen up against Emperor Theodosius III. Leo, however, tricked them and secured the Byzantine throne for himself.

George Hamartolos Byzantine chronicler

George Hamartolos or Hamartolus was a monk at Constantinople under Michael III (842–867) and the author of a chronicle of some importance. Hamartolus is not his name but the epithet he gives to himself in the title of his work: "A compendious chronicle from various chroniclers and interpreters, gathered together and arranged by George, a sinner ". It is a common form among Byzantine monks. Krumbacher protests against the use of this epithet as a name and proposes the form Georgios Monachos.

Theodorus and Theophanes

Saints Theodorus and Theophanes, called the Grapti, are remembered as proponents of the veneration of icons during the second Iconoclastic controversy. They were brothers and natives of Jerusalem.

Byzantine Iconoclasm two periods in the history of the Byzantine Empire when the use of religious images or icons was opposed by religious and imperial authorities

Byzantine Iconoclasm refers to two periods in the history of the Byzantine Empire when the use of religious images or icons was opposed by religious and imperial authorities within the Orthodox Church and the temporal imperial hierarchy. The "First Iconoclasm", as it is sometimes called, existed between about 726 and 787. The "Second Iconoclasm" was between 814 and 842. According to the traditional view, Byzantine Iconoclasm was started by a ban on religious images by Emperor Leo III and continued under his successors. It was accompanied by widespread destruction of images and persecution of supporters of the veneration of images. The pope remained firmly in support of the use of images throughout the period, and the whole episode widened the growing divergence between the Byzantine and Carolingian traditions in what was still a unified church, as well as facilitating the reduction or removal of Byzantine political control over parts of Italy.

Anna was the wife of Artabasdos, one of two rival Byzantine Emperors in a civil war which lasted from June, 741 to November, 743. The other Emperor was her brother, Constantine V.

Trajan the Patrician was a Byzantine historian.

Siege of Nicaea (727) Unsuccessful attempt by the Umayyad Caliphate to capture the Byzantine city of Nicaea in 727

The Siege of Nicaea of 727 was an unsuccessful attempt by the Umayyad Caliphate to capture the Byzantine city of Nicaea, the capital of the Opsician Theme. Ever since its failure to capture the Byzantine Empire's capital, Constantinople, in 717–718, the Caliphate had launched a series of raids into Byzantine Asia Minor. In 727, the Arab army, led by one of the Caliph's sons, penetrated deep into Asia Minor, sacked two Byzantine fortresses and in late July arrived before Nicaea. Despite constant attacks for 40 days, the city held firm and the Arabs withdrew and returned to the Caliphate. The successful repulsion of the attack was a major boost for Byzantine emperor Leo III the Isaurian's recently initiated campaign to abolish the veneration of icons in the Empire; Leo claimed it as evidence of divine favour for his policy. The siege of Nicaea marks also the high point of the Umayyad raids, as new threats and defeats on their far-flung frontiers decreased Umayyad strength elsewhere, while Byzantine power strengthened afterwards.

Siege of Tyana siege

The Siege of Tyana was carried out by the Umayyad Caliphate in 707–708 or 708–709 in retaliation for a heavy defeat of an Umayyad army under Maimun the Mardaite by the Byzantine Empire in c. 706. The Arab army invaded Byzantine territory and laid siege to the city in summer 707 or 708. The date is uncertain, as virtually each of the extant Greek, Arabic, and Syriac parallel sources has in this respect a different date. Tyana initially withstood the siege with success, and the Arab army faced great hardship during the ensuing winter and was on the point of abandoning the siege in spring, when a relief army sent by Emperor Justinian II arrived. Quarrels among the Byzantine generals, as well as the inexperience of a large part of their army, contributed to a crushing Umayyad victory. Thereupon the inhabitants of the city were forced to surrender. Despite the agreement of terms, the city was plundered and largely destroyed, and according to Byzantine sources its people were made captive and deported, leaving the city deserted.

Strategios Podopagouros was a Byzantine military commander and with his brother Constantine leader of a conspiracy against Emperor Constantine V.

Constantine Podopagouros was a high-ranking Byzantine official and with his brother Strategios leader of a conspiracy against Emperor Constantine V.

References

Attribution:

Further reading