Pope Constantine

Pope Constantine (Latin: Constantinus; 664 – 9 April 715) was Pope from 25 March 708 to his death in 715.[2] With the exception of Antipope Constantine, he was the only pope to take such a "quintessentially" Eastern name of an emperor.[3] During this period, the regnal name was also used by emperors and patriarchs.

Selected as one of the last popes of the Byzantine Papacy, the defining moment of Constantine's pontificate was his 710/711 visit to Constantinople where he compromised with Justinian II on the Trullan canons of the Quinisext Council. Constantine was the last pope to visit Constantinople until Pope Paul VI did in 1967.[4][5]


Papacy began25 March 708
Papacy ended9 April 715
SuccessorGregory II
Personal details
Birth nameConstantinus
Syria, Umayyad Caliphate
Died9 April 715

Early life

Constantine was a Syrian by birth, fluent in the Greek language and immersed in Eastern rituals and practices.[6] By his upbringing, he would have been "fully at ease in the oriental milieu of the early-eighth-century Byzantine court".[6]

Before his selection as pope, he had visited Constantinople twice.[6] He was one of the Roman legates to the Third Council of Constantinople there in 680/681.[6] He also delivered a combative letter from Pope Leo II to Constantine IV in 682.[6] He met and developed a rapport with Prince Justinian, the heir apparent to the Byzantine throne, on both occasions.[6]

Selection as Pope

Constantine's predecessor Pope Sisinnius, a Syrian, was pope for only twenty days.[7] Constantine became pope in March 708, less than two months later.[7] Constantine was one of the many Greek popes of the Byzantine Papacy, the period during which Rome was under the rule of the Byzantine Empire and popes required the approval of the emperor for consecration as pope.

The defining issue of the papacy at the time of Constantine's election was the Western rejection of the Trullan canons of the Quinisext Council.[8] Pope John VII had been sent the canons for approval and instead had sent them back, "without any emendations at all".[8] John VII's predecessor, Pope Sergius I had declared that he would rather die than subscribe to the council.[8]

Papal visit to Constantinople

Constantine's successor Pope Gregory II accompanied him to Constantinople as a deacon.

In 710, Justinian II demanded in a iussio that Constantine appear before the emperor in Constantinople.[9] The imperial mandate made it "obvious that the relentless emperor meant to settle once and for all the issue of Rome's acceptance of the Trullan decrees".[3] Unlike his predecessors, Constantine neither delayed nor made excuses to avoid appearing in the imperial city; in fact, he "identified with Byzantium as perhaps no Roman pontiff before him ever had".[3] Prior to Constantine's departure, the Emperor had blinded Archbishop Felix of Ravenna for plotting to overthrow the Emperor, an act that had improved the papal-Byzantine rapport.[6] However, Constantine's primary motivation for the trip was to "forestall" a rift between Rome and Constantinople over the Trullan decrees.[6]

Constantine departed on 5 October 710.[6] In Constantinople, Constantine stayed in the Placidia Palace, which had formerly been occupied by Pope Vigilius in 547, the representatives of Pope Martin I, and Pope Agatho (while attending the Third Council of Constantinople).[10] Eleven of Constantine's thirteen companions who can be identified by name (two bishops, three priests, and all the ranking members of the papal chancellery and household) were also of Eastern extraction.[11] Also accompanying Constantine was the future Pope Gregory II, then a deacon, and another Latin subdeacon Julian.[11] Constantine specifically chose attendants who were "cut from similar cloth" as he, and likely to be sympathetic to the East.[6]

While stopping in transit in Naples, Constantine crossed paths with Exarch of Ravenna John III Rizocopo, then on his way to Rome to execute four high-ranking papal officials by cutting their throats.[6] The four (as evidenced by their staying behind) were opposed to Constantine's new policy of rapproachment with Constantinople.[6] Doubtlessly, Constantine himself learned of the exarch's errand before departing for Sicily, then Gallipoli, and then Otranto, where the group stayed for winter.[6] In the spring, Constantine crossed the Ionian Sea, meeting the strategos of the imperial fleet on the island of Chios and was received by the Karabisianoi before proceeding to Constantinople.[6]

Constantine entered Constantinople on a "horse caparisoned with gilded saddle clothes and golden bridles and bearing on his head the kamelaukion, or diadem, which the sovereign alone was authorized to wear and then only on 'a great public festival of the Lord'".[6] The Emperor Justinian II's son and co-emperor Tiberios (along with Patriarch Kyros, senators, nobles, clerics, and many others) greeted Constantine at the seventh milestone from the city in the style of an imperial adventus.[12] Justinian II was in Nicaea at the time and urged the pontiff to meet him in Nicomedia.[12] The Liber pontificalis recounts a bizarre scene of the crowned emperor prostrating himself before the pope, but a more mutual greeting is probable.[12] That Sunday, Justinian II received communion from the hands of the pope and issued a vague confirmation of the various privileges of the Roman See.[12]

The negotiations regarding the Trullan canons were conducted by the future Pope Gregory II. A degree of compromise (the "so-called Compromise of Nicomedia")—which "diplomatically skirted" the actual issue of their acceptance—was reached.[12] While Constantine made concessions regarding the economia, he did not give ground on the vast majority of the Roman grievances.[12] The agreement was more designed to secure East-West political unity than resolve any doctrinal dispute.[12] The fact of Constantine's having been summoned to Constantinople was the real proof that the "imperial writ still ran in Rome".[12] Constantine left the city in October 711.

Later imperial disputes

Constantine refused to accept coins minted with the image of Philippikos Bardanes.

However, shortly after Constantine's return to Rome, Justinian was killed by mutinous troops, in November 711.

The new emperor Philippikos Bardanes was an adherent of Monothelitism, rejected the arrangements of the Third Council of Constantinople, and demanded Constantine's support of the view that Christ had only one will. In 712, Constantine rejected Philippikos demand to revive Monothelitism. He further refused to receive an imperial portrait or coins with the emperor's image and also refused to commemorate the emperor in Mass.[8] As the exarch (the imperial representative in Italy) attempted to enforce the imperial presence there were clashes, but Constantine was able to calm the situation.

Philippus was overthrown in June 713 and his successor, Anastasius II had exarch Scholasticus deliver to the Pope a letter affirming his support for the Sixth General Council.

See also


  1. ^ The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Constantine/Pope". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  2. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pope Constantine" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  3. ^ a b c Ekonomou 2007, p. 270
  4. ^ Fiske, Edward B (1967-07-26), "Papal Pilgrimage Is Viewed as a Major Step Toward Reunion", New York Times: 2
  5. ^ Pope holds Mass at ancient Christian site in Turkey, USA today, 2006-11-29, retrieved 2009-09-09
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Ekonomou 2007, p. 271
  7. ^ a b Ekonomou 2007, p. 246
  8. ^ a b c d Ekonomou 2007, p. 247
  9. ^ Ekonomou 2007, p. 269
  10. ^ Ekonomou 2007, p. 30
  11. ^ a b Ekonomou 2007, p. 245
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h Ekonomou 2007, p. 272


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Gregory II
700s (decade)

The 700s decade ran from January 1, 700, to December 31, 709.


Year 708 (DCCVIII) was a leap year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 708 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.


Year 709 (DCCIX) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 709 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.


Year 710 (DCCX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 710 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.


Year 715 (DCCXV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 715 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

Antipope Constantine II

Antipope Constantine II (died 769?) was an antipope for over a year, from 28 June 767 to 6 August 768. He was overthrown through the intervention of the Lombards and tortured before he was condemned and expelled from the Church during the Lateran Council of 769.

Upon the death of Pope Paul I various factions contended to secure the appointment of their respective candidates as pope. Constantine, although a layman, was supported by a group of Tuscan nobles, led by his brother. They secured his election by force of arms. The following spring, local authorities, with Lombard support, succeeded in deposing him. The Lombards then attempted to install their own candidate, a priest named Philip. He, in turn, was overthrown the following day by the local authorities who then elected the churchman Stephen. For a short time Constantine retained some support outside the city, which resulted in armed conflict. The supporters of Stephen had the imprisoned Constantine blinded, which, it seems to be generally allowed, Stephen was unable to hinder. After which Constantine was held in close confinement in a monastery.

Antipope Philip

Antipope Philip (c. 701 – c. 800) was an antipope who held office for just one day, on July 31, 768.

Benedict (bishop of Milan)

Benedict (Latin: Benedictus, Italian: Benedetto) was Archbishop of Milan from c. 685 to c. 732. He is honoured as a saint in the Catholic Church.

Byzantine Papacy

The Byzantine Papacy was a period of Byzantine domination of the Roman 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-ruled Greece, Syria, or Sicily. 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.

With the exception of Pope Martin I, no pope during this period questioned the authority of the Byzantine monarch to confirm the election of the bishop of Rome before consecration could occur; however, theological conflicts were common between pope and emperor in the areas such as monothelitism and iconoclasm.

Greek-speakers from Greece, Syria, and Sicily replaced members of the powerful Roman nobles in the papal chair during this period. Rome under the Greek popes constituted a "melting pot" of Western and Eastern Christian traditions, reflected in art as well as liturgy.

Ceolred of Mercia

Ceolred (died 716) was King of Mercia from 709 to 716.

Constantine I (disambiguation)

Constantine I (272–337), popularly known as Constantine the Great, was a Roman Emperor.

Constantine I may also refer to:

Constantine I of Greece (d. 1923)

Constantín mac Cináeda (d. 877), also known as Constantine I of Scotland

Zara Yaqob (1399–1468), emperor of Ethiopia sometimes known as Constantine INobles on the island of SardiniaConstantine I of Arborea, 11th century ruler in Arborea, on the island of Sardinia

Constantine I of Cagliari, 11th century rulerNobles in the Kingdom of GeorgiaConstantine I of Imereti (d. 1327), king of the Imereti in Georgia

Constantine I of Georgia (1369–1412), king of Georgia

Constantine I of Kakheti (1567–1605), aka Constantine Khan, King of the Kakheti in GeorgiaPeople in Cilician ArmeniaConstantine I, Prince of Armenia (1035–1040), second "Lord of the Mountains" of Cilician Armenia

Constantine I of Cilicia (fl. 1221–1267), Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church

Constantine I, King of Armenia (1278–1310), also sometimes called Constantine III, King of Cilician Armenia (son of Leo II, and brother of Hethum II)Religious leadersPatriarch Constantine I of Constantinople

Pope Constantine

Felix of Ravenna

Felix (Felice) (died 724) was an archbishop of Ravenna of the eighth century, in office 709 to his death.

He was consecrated by Pope Constantine, but soon afterwards asserted his independence from Rome. When Ravenna was captured by the forces of Justinian II, Felix was taken to Constantinople, tried and blinded, and sent into exile. Justinian was deposed in 711, and Felix returned from Pontus to Ravenna.He collected 176 sermons of his predecessor Peter Chrysologus.

John III Rizocopus

John III Rizocopus was an Exarch of Ravenna (710).

Following the restoration of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian II, he sent a military force to savage Ravenna. "Apparently," writes Jeffrey Richards, "some prominent Ravennates were involved in the revolt which overthrew Justinian and when he returned to power he determined to revenge himself on the entire city." The Archbishop Felix was arrested with other prominent citizens and taken to Constantinople, and the city plundered and burned.In response, the citizens and soldiers of Ravenna rebelled, making one George the son of Johannicus their leader, whose father was one of the captives taken to Constantinople. John was appointed Exarch not long after this, and landed at Naples with loyal troops, where he encountered Pope Constantine responding to an Imperial summons to Constantinople. John then proceeded to Ravenna by way of Rome, where he "cut the throats" of several senior papal officials, according to the Liber Pontificalis. Richards explains this violent act by pointing out "the inclusion of the papal steward and the papal treasurer among the victims suggests a bid to plunder the papal treasury."John Rizocopus continued to Ravenna, where he died shortly after, although the details are not recorded. The Liber Pontificalis does record that in Ravenna "by God's judgment on his atrocious deeds he [John] died an ignominious death". Whether his death was due to illness or a revolt by the Ravennese is impossible to determine, but the latter is more likely, given the subsequent dispatch of a punitive expedition. The strategos of Sicily, Theodore, was placed in charge of the latter, and imprisoned and executed the leaders of the Ravennese revolt, including Archbishop Felix, who was deported to Constantinople, blinded and exiled to the Crimea.

Justinian II

Justinian II (Greek: Ἰουστινιανός Β΄, Ioustinianos II; Latin: Flavius Iustinianus Augustus; 668 – 11 December 711), surnamed the Rhinotmetos or Rhinotmetus (ὁ Ῥινότμητος, "the slit-nosed"), was the last Byzantine Emperor of the Heraclian Dynasty, reigning from 685 to 695 and again from 705 to 711. Justinian II was an ambitious and passionate ruler who was keen to restore the Roman Empire to its former glories, but he responded poorly to any opposition to his will and lacked the finesse of his father, Constantine IV. Consequently, he generated enormous opposition to his reign, resulting in his deposition in 695 in a popular uprising, and he only returned to the throne in 705 with the help of a Bulgar and Slav army. His second reign was even more despotic than the first, and it too saw his eventual overthrow in 711, abandoned by his army who turned on him before killing him.

Papal travel

Papal travel outside Rome has been historically rare, and voluntary travel was non-existent for the first 500 years. Pope John Paul II (1978–2005) undertook more pastoral trips than all his predecessors combined. Pope Francis (2013-), Pope Paul VI (1963–1978) and Pope Benedict XVI (2005–2013) also travelled globally, the latter to a lesser extent due to his advanced age.

Popes resided outside Rome—primarily in Viterbo, Orvieto, and Perugia—during the 13th century, and then absconded to France during the Avignon Papacy (1309–1378). Pope Vigilius (537-555) in 547, Pope Agatho (678-681) in 680, and Pope Constantine in 710 visited Constantinople, whereas Pope Martin I (649-655) was abducted there for trial in 653. Pope Stephen II (752-757) became the first pope to cross the Alps in 752 to crown Pepin the Short; Pope Pius VII repeated the feat over a millennium later to crown Napoleon.

Pax Romana (comics)

Pax Romana is a creator-owned four-issue limited series comic book written and illustrated by Jonathan Hickman and published by Image Comics on March 7, 2012.

Pope Sisinnius

Pope Sisinnius (c. 650 – 4 February 708) was Pope from 15 January to his death in 708.A Syrian by birth, Sisinnius' father's name was John. The paucity of donations to the papacy during his reign (42 pounds of gold and 310 pounds of silver, a fraction of the personal donations of other contemporary pontiffs) indicate that he was probably not from the aristocracy.Sisinnius was selected as pope during the Byzantine Papacy. He succeeded Pope John VII after a sede vacante of three months. He was consecrated around 15 January 708.Sisinnius remained pope for just twenty days. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "although he was so afflicted with gout that he was unable even to feed himself, he is nevertheless said to have been a man of strong character, and to have been able to take thought for the good of the city". Among his few acts as pope was the consecration of a bishop for Corsica. He also ordered "that lime be burned in order to restore portions" of the walls of Rome. The restoration of the walls planned by Sisinnius was carried out by Pope Gregory II.Sisinnius was buried in Old St. Peter's Basilica. He was succeeded less than two months later by Pope Constantine. Constantine, also Syrian by birth, was probably the brother of Sisinnius.


Scholasticus was an exarch of Ravenna (713-723).

In 713 he was appointed as exarch, the same year Anastasios II became Byzantine Emperor, and overthrew the Monothelite Emperor Philippicus. Scholasticus was charged with giving a letter to Pope Constantine, which described Anastasios' allegiance to orthodoxy, helping to heal the rift between Rome and Constantinople. He was replaced in ca. 723 as exarch by Paul.

1st–4th centuries
During the Roman Empire (until 493)
including under Constantine (312–337)
5th–8th centuries
Ostrogothic Papacy (493–537)
Byzantine Papacy (537–752)
Frankish Papacy (756–857)
9th–12th centuries
Papal selection before 1059
Saeculum obscurum (904–964)
Crescentii era (974–1012)
Tusculan Papacy (1012–1044/1048)
Imperial Papacy (1048–1257)
13th–16th centuries
Viterbo (1257–1281)
Orvieto (1262–1297)
Perugia (1228–1304)
Avignon Papacy (1309–1378)
Western Schism (1378–1417)
Renaissance Papacy (1417–1534)
Reformation Papacy (1534–1585)
Baroque Papacy (1585–1689)
17th–20th centuries
Age of Enlightenment (c. 1640-1740)
Revolutionary Papacy (1775–1848)
Roman Question (1870–1929)
Vatican City (1929–present)
21st century
History of the papacy

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