Abbot Theodore and the Stoudites: A case study in monastic social groupings and religious conflict in Constantinople (787--826)

Peter James Hatlie, Fordham University


The Stoudios monastery in Constantinople is among the best known and most interesting Byzantine religious communities. It played a particularly prominent role in Byzantium during the Middle Byzantine era, notably because of its active involvement in the empire's religious affairs. This study follows the Stoudites and their parent monastery, the Sakkoudion, through a series of religious disputes of the late-eighth and early-ninth century--the Moechian conflict (795-7), Joseph affair (806-811), and second phase of Iconoclasm (815-843). Each of these controversies pitted the Stoudite monastic federation and its illustrious leader, Abbot Theodore of Stoudios, against church and officials as well as numerous monks from other communities.^ Part One of the study examines Theodore's personal perspectives on the conflicts. It reviews his conception of the ideal world order (Chapter I), his analysis of the causes, significance and implications of the religious conflicts of his day (Chapter II), and his prescriptions for containing and combatting the conflicts, including urging his followers to undertake martyrdom (martyrion) and speaking out (parresia).^ Part Two of the study considers some of the practical dimensions of the conflicts, apart (as much as possible) from Theodore's depiction of them. It surveys the persecutions against Theodore and his followers (Chapter IV), the nature, strength and social composition of that group of followers (Chapter V), and the general plan and direction of their protest movements (Chapter VI).^ Part Three, the conclusion of the study, weighs Theodore's perspectives on the conflicts over and against the real experiences of his group of followers. The picture of the protests which emerges from this analysis is complex and intriguing. It shows beyond doubt that Theodore of Stoudios was an highly capable, motivated and skilled leader, and that an amalgam of social, political, religious and personal factors propelled and shaped the protest movements under his direction. ^

Subject Area

Religious history|Ancient history|Medieval history

Recommended Citation

Hatlie, Peter James, "Abbot Theodore and the Stoudites: A case study in monastic social groupings and religious conflict in Constantinople (787--826)" (1993). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9324617.