[Ansteorra] Ansteorra Digest, Vol 21, Issue 143

SoldierGrrrl soldier.grrrl at gmail.com
Sun Jan 27 07:59:53 PST 2008

Pardon me, but I should introduce myself.  My lady wife suggested that
I should speak to this topic in a bit more detail than she can.
Church history and the spread of Orthodox Christianity, as well as the
later Great Schism, are particular interests of mine, both as an
amateur  historian, and an Orthodox Christian.

Ioannes Dalassenos, mka John M. Atkinson

> I am a bit sketchy on the exact timeline but, Father James -- the priest assigned to St Elias in Austin -- taught us that both halves of the > church - the eastern and the Roman were very active in early missionary efforts in Europe and the British Isles. At some point between

I don't mean to question Fr. James, but 'early missionary efforts' in
Europe were indeed the purview of Constantinople.  If one is speaking
of Slavs or the Rus, or the Bulgars.  However, Britain was essentially
completely Christian by the 5th Century AD, or shortly thereafter.
Before the withdrawal of Roman Soldiers in approx 406 AD (exact date
disputed) it would be ridiculous to speak of Eastern vs. Western
Christianity.  After that withdrawal, the primary references to
contact with the Church are to bishops of Gaul for at least the next
century or two.  After that, travel and communications had been
restored enough to bring Britain into the larger community of the West
through contacts with Rome.

>their arrival and the split between the East and West a Southern King
married a Northern Princess. He followed the Roman calendar and
>fashion. She followed the Eastern ways. It was a year like this one
in which the observance of Easter and Pascha were far removed that
>the question of the form of Christianity in the Isles would be
settled. As the king wanted his wife to feast with him -- she was
still in the >midst of the Lenten Fast -- he decreed his land and
people would follow Rome. After this point the majority of the people
of the Isles >followed the Roman Patriarch (Pope) though there were
people who held to Eastern ways in the areas removed from court for
some time.

Not true, however.  That sounds like a slightly mythologized version
of the Synod of Whitby.  Held in 664 in the reign of the Northumbrian
king Oswiu at the monastary of Streanoeshalch (later the Abbey of
Whitby, hence the name).  Our primary source is the history of the
Venerable Bede, a monk who knew personally at least one significant
player in the Synod.

The calculation tables for Easter that were in use in England were
called Ionan, after the monastary of Iona.  There were held to be in
error by Rome, who preferred the tables compiled by Dionysius Exiguus.
 Synods in Gaul and Ireland had already been held and resolved in
favor of the Roman tables.

While it is true that Oswiu was the son of a King converted by Ionan
monks and his queen, Eanflaed (daughter of the King of Kent) was using
the Roman tables, this was not an issue for years.  It was not until
St. Aidan had reposed and his successors were challenged by Irish
monks trained in the Roman tradition that it became an issue.

To portray the Ionan monks as being Orthodox (as we think of Orthodoxy
today) and the Irish as Roman Catholics (as we think of Roman
Catholics today) and this synod as a conflict between the two modern
groups is incorrect.

"Celtic Christianity" as represented by the Ionan monks has been
mythologized to a great deal, first by Protestant "Reformers" and now
today by Anglo converts to Orthodoxy as being something in line with
their own beliefs.  This is not supportable.  For one thing, the
controversies that separate the Orthodox and Catholic today were
something unknown in 7th Century Northumbria.

There is a supposition of division, of schism, and lack of communion,
that would have been unthinkable to an Ionan monk.  It would not have
occurred to him that his method of calculating Easter or his style of
tonsure would or could constitute a separation of communion with the
successors of St. Peter in Rome.  To him, they were a local custom
which he observed in the tradition of St. Columba who founded the
monastary at Iona.

>By 1100 all of Europe was under the authority of Rome.

Western Europe, with the breakpoint being the former Roman province of
Illyria, and Southern Italy was under Constantinople as well.  Indeed,
to this day there are Eastern Rite Catholics in southern Italy.

> I am fairly certain that a Scot of this period would have been familiar with byzantine fashion through religious art at the very least. The Byzantine style is so pervasive in writing icons that even the recently recognized passion bearers of the Romanov family are shown wearing Byzantine garments in their icon.

Nonsense.  Not to put too fine a point on it, Byzantine icons would
not have made it to the hinterlands.  Even had they, they would have
been unique curiosities, not templates for fashion.  Further,
iconography has a very stylized form of formal court dress, not actual
working fashion.  It's one of the reasons finding out what the
"everyday" Byzantine wore is problematic.  Like much Western art, the
people portrayed are either very important or highly stylized,
sometimes both, and also, frequently wearing vestments.  Icons of the
Apostles are probably not going to be terribly useful for ascertaining
current Byzantine fashions, since they're wearing...well...robes/.

Also, any icons that might have been brought back from the East by a
Western pilgrim, probably would have been an icon of a familiar saint,
such as St. John, St. George, or the Theotokos.  As these would have
been "old" saints, their icons would have been almost useless for
determining what current Byzantine fashion was.  Within the empire,
court fashion was deliberately antiquated and highly regimented.

The icons of the Tsar-Martyr and his Holy Family are written in the
Byzantine style because they are Saints of the Orthodox Church.
Catholic saints are not depicted thus, and the Latins don't recognize
the Tsar-Martyr.

> al Aeryn

Also, be aware that those folx who lived further away from the centers
of "civilization" actually tended to incorporate more of the local
ethnic dress in their clothing.  As 11th c. Capdocian, our persona
have a lot more leeway in what we would wear as opposed to someone
living in Constantinople.

And perhaps all of *Western* Europe was under the sway of Rome, but
Eastern Europe was still Orthodox.  :-D

If we have offended you with our words, we would ask forgiveness.

With regards,
Helena Dalessene
Blonde.  It's not just a hair color; it's a way of life.


More information about the Ansteorra mailing list