Arianism

Conflict

Byzantium The new Roman Capital almost from its inauguration was wracked with religious disputes. The recurring theme was of members of the Church of Rome, or Orthodox Christians attacking other Christians.The new Roman Capital of Constantinople (Byzantium) almost from its inauguration was wracked with religious disputes. The recurring theme was of members of the Church of Rome, or Orthodox Christians attacking other Christians.

To pick out just a sample:-

“On 4th november 512 the fateful phrase, ‘who was crucified for us’ once again echoed through the great basilica. On this occasion the violence was far worse; by the time order had been restored the floor was covered in the blood of the dead and wounded. A similar incident occured the next day at the church of St Theodore resulted in further casualties but on the 6th the orthodox mob was ready. At a huge rally in the Hippodrome they called death and dstruction on all heretics, then poured out into the city to make good their words. Imperial statues were hurled to the ground and smashed; among the many houses burned to the ground were those of the Pretorian Prefect and the Emperor’s nephew Pomeius.  The rioting continued for another full two days.”

(from Byzantium, The Early Centuries by John Julius ( Lord )Norwich)

The early machinations of the Church of Rome are really difficult to understand despite the fact that the clash between the trinitarian belief  and the Arian belief is well documented.

The documentation as presented to us now is essentially simple, at least with the help of John Julius Norwich it is. Arius was a presbyter not a bishop, but he was acknowledged as being a man of great theological scholarship. The concept he preached  was that as Jesus was the son of god there must have been a time he did not exist therefore he was created just like the rest of the human race, he might well have been a man , a very special man but a man nonetheless.

Homoiousis

Mainstream church opinion, though not always clearly articulated was that Jesus was consubstantial with the father. The greek word used to explain this is “homiousios”. Consubstantial  though still in use today is not an exact translation as there is no satisfactory equivalent in modern languages. It means the same but different. Perhaps of a similar but different substance.

Nicea

Arius was not alone, he gained support from Eusabius of Caesaria, a most influential bishop of the early church and the majority of easten Bishops. However at the council of Nicea, the first council of the christian church, the majority declared against Arius.

Ten years later, at the Synod of Tyre the Arian beliefs were re-established but Arius died suddenly before he could savour his success. The Arian cause did not end there . For fifty years the debate raged and for several periods Arianism became the approved belief.

Trinitarianism

At the council of Constantinople in AD381 the alternative creed was finally adopted. In an attempt to resolve all disputes amongst non arian bishops the trinity was announced.  One god but three persons in one god the father, the son and the holy spirit.

The popular version of events is that the Arians shook their heads and left the empire where their beliefs thrived. Most of the barbarian peoples who surrounded the empire were converted to the Arian faith by the refugees. It cannot have been as simple as that. Only fifty years later those described  by the church as “Arian” did not only regard Jesus as a man rather than a god, but they were also dualists, a belief which may have had its origins in Egypt.

The Goths

In the summer and fall of 376, under pressure from the advancing Huns, tens of thousands of displaced Goths crossed the Danube River, on the border of the Roman Empire. The roman emperor, Valens agreed to accept them as he planned to use them to increase the size of his army. They came with an impediment, they believed in a different form of christianity. They were said to be Arian,whose main difference from orthodoxy was  a theological concern about the nature of Jesus, but they were known to be something else as well Dualists, they believed in two gods.  The subsequent history of the Goths suggests that they were Cathars.

The Goths In the summer and fall of 376, under pressure from the advancing Huns, tens of thousands of displaced Goths crossed the Danube River, on the border of the Roman Empire. The roman emperor, Valens agreed to accept them as he planned to use them to increase the size of his army. They came with an impediment, they believed in a different form of christianity. They were said to be Arian,whose main difference from orthodoxy was a theological concern about the nature of Jesus, but they were known to be something else as well Dualists, they believed in two gods. The subsequent history of the Goths suggests that they were Cathars.

Attempts to convert the Goths were strenuously resisted and so a program of discrimination commenced.  Rome failed to supply them with either the food they were promised or lands they could farm; they herded the Goths into a temporary holding area surrounded by an armed Roman garrison and left the the Goths to starve. The Romans provided a grim alternative: the trade of slaves (often children and young women) for dog meat.  The Romans provided the male Goths with paid service in the army but then used them continually in the front line holding the legions in reserve.  there seemed to be no concern for Gothic losses and worse still their women and children still in the guarded camp were subject to brutality and rape. Open revolt began.

After an open war lasting six years in which they defeated Valens and occupied most of Illyrica (Serbia and Croatia) the Goths made peace and settled into lands close to the Danube but under substantially better conditions. They still suffered discrimination and sporadic attacks.

They Served in the roman army but were still discriminated against. Eventually the decision was take to move to an are where the poulace shared the same religious beliefs, the area they chose was Occitan. On the way there, they conducted extended negotiations with The Emperor and senate of Rome. They wanted to be made autonomous by a grant of land away from the Danube, monetary compensation for their suffering, and access to the Roman grain from North Africa.  The negotiations ended in 410 with the Gothic occupation of Rome, which has become notorious as “The Sack of Rome”.

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They settled into a new home on the atlantic coast initially on the banks of the river Garronne and created a new kingdom which eventually stretched from the Loire river to the straights of Gibraltar, (modern Aquitaine, Haut Garonne, Languedoc, Provence, Roussillon, Catalonia and Spain. This suggests that the form of Christianity they found there was indeed compatible with, or tolerant of their own beliefs.

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The Goth’s religion was labeled by the Church of Rome as “Arian” but it was more than that. It incorporated the teachings of Mani. Manichaeist Christianity had thrived beyond the eastern boundary of the Roman Empire.   In Manichaeism there were two Gods, a Good God called simply God, Good God, Pleroma, Bythos, Amun or Mazda and a Bad God, Demoniac, Demiurge or Yahweh. It identified itself as Christian but traces can be seen of Zoroastrian, Gnostic and Buddhist beliefs. The word Mazda for the Good God originated in the Zoroastrian, and Gnostic beliefs and both, in turn, drew on both Egyptian and Greek traditions. Some believe that Islam was a product of the Manichaeist beliefs and therefore might have had some affinity with the Goths.

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Extract from The Prisoner of Foix--Chapter 43 -The EntranceNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley-26th April 1355

 

'Looks like we are going to see a bit of excitement, John. The Captain tried to get an agreement from the Prince that if there is surf running across the channel to Arcachon we will turn back to Bordeaux, but the Prince would hear none of it. Instead, he has offered to provide insurance for all three ships. If they are damaged or sunk, the owners will be compensated and every sailor who makes the passage will be given a bounty payment. What none of this seems to take into account is that if we sink in rough, fast-flowing waters we might all drown.'

John raised his eyebrows. 'But that is what we are going to do?'

'Yes, despite the fact that surf running accross the entrance is not uncommon and the deep water channel moves continually. In the end, the Prince attacked their captains on their weakest point, their professional pride! He threw down the gauntlet. He offered to take the Sally first through the channel, and to take control during the passage.' He raised his brow. 'We are going into the Bay of Arcachon, come what may! '

Extract from The Eagle of Carcassone -- Chapter 24-- A Real GoddessNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley - 22 July 1355

An hour later John walked with Ximene close to the river along the valley below St Feriole. It was the very essence of a summer’s day. The sun was fierce but in the shadow of the trees, it was cool and fragrant. The trees and shrubs along the riverbank hid their progress, from the Château, from St Feriole.

Eventually they reached a point where John thought it was safe to emerge from cover. To his satisfaction the stream extended into a pool with a sandy beach, shaded by trees. Where the stream entered the pool there was a flat grassy area, almost circular. Behind this, the bulk of two mountain ridges provided a splendid backdrop. He looked around once more ‘Not just a good training ground but a great training ground. If the Greek heroes knew about this they might be tempted to join me, to train with me’

Ximene laughed out loud. He turned to look at her. She had removed her outer clothes and was wearing a white chemise, cut short so that it barely reached her knees. Around her waist, she wore a plaited leather belt, obviously fashioned from the multitude of leather straps to be found in the tackle room.

She ran her hands down over her breasts. ‘When you were unconscious I heard you muttering about gods and goddesses, so  I have decided that from now on, for you, I will be the goddess.’

The Prisoner of FoixVol 1 of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

Aquitaine, an English possession, is in crisis. It is under threat from neighbouring nations and internal dissension.

The Black Prince, King Edward III’s eldest son has been given the task of taking command in Aquitaine.

Suddenly there is an opportunity. Ximene Trencavel is the heiress to the lands of Occitan, to the east of Aquitaine: lands controlled by the Franks. Ximene wants independence, both for herself and for Occitan.

A union between Aquitaine and Occitan would be mutually beneficial. The Black Prince undertakes a secret journey to meet Ximene to negotiate a marriage contract. It is, however, a marriage neither of them really wants.

Meanwhile, the  Franks plot to murder Ximene to prevent ,not just the marriage, but any kind of union between England and Occitan.

The Eagle Of CarcassonneVol II of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

The loose alliance between Ximene Trencavel and the Black Prince is under threat.

The Prince invades Occitan, to show his support for Ximene but it becomes an invasion which creates more problems than it solves.

The Prince has fallen hopelessly in love with Joan of Kent and Joan is now determined to marry him and become the next Queen of England.

Joan is therefore  determined to convince Ximene that she should not marry the Prince.

Part of her strategy is to encourage Ximene’s relationship with John Stanley—one of the Princes bodyguards—not an easy task as both John and Ximene have doubts about their compatibility.

However, John is grievously injured in a battle and Ximene commits herself to nurse him back to health.