On the other hand, it was at times impossible for the Church in Constantinople to hold the moral high ground when directed by an unpopular, or assumedly unethical Emperor. From the ruler's perspective, control of the Church was potentially problematic in that clerics could act as a focus for effective political dissent, especially if allied to a rival imperial claimant. Beyond that, close patronage of the Church dragged Emperors into doctrinal disputes, as they were the last theological resort and could not remain aloof from those conflicts between patriarchates with ramifications for social order and political stability. This entanglement in turn made it all too easy to alienate the Catholic Church in the West. Emperors had still not written off the West and their presumed suzerainty over its church. The combined affect of all the continuing religious disputes, however, was to injure the feelings of the Pope, and loosen the East-West bonds on this score. Finally, even the losers of theological disputes hurt the power of the Emperor and state. Repudiated doctrines did not go away; rather, they became the rallying cry, or even local creed, of key regions in the Empire, such as Egypt and sections of Syria. With persistent foreign invasions on all fronts, it was perilous indeed for large numbers of subjects in strategically vital areas to be politically and religiously alienated from the center.

Popular pages: Early Middle Ages (475-1000)