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History of the Christian Church, Volume IV: Mediaeval Christianity. A.D. 590-1073.
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§ 114. Concilium Quinisextum. a.d. 692.


Mansi., XI. 930–1006. Hefele, III. 328–348. Gieseler,I. 541 sq.

Wm. Beveridge (Bishop of St. Asaph, 1704–1708): Synodicon, sive Pandectae canonum. Oxon. 1672–82. Tom. I. 152–283. Beveridge gives the comments of Theod. Balsamon, Joh. Zonaras, etc., on the Apostolical Canons.

Assemani (R.C.): Bibliotheca juris orientalis. Rom 1766, Tom. V. 55–348, and Tom. I. 120 and 408 sqq. An extensive discussion of this Synod and its canons.


The pope of Old Rome had achieved a great dogmatic triumph in the sixth oecumenical council, but the Greek church had the satisfaction of branding at least one pope as a heretic, and soon found an opportunity to remind her rival of the limits of her authority.

The fifth and sixth oecumenical councils passed doctrinal decrees, but no disciplinary canons. This defect was supplied by a new council at Constantinople in 692, called the Concilium Quinisextum,638638    Σύνοδος πενθέκτη. The Greeks consider it simply as the continuation of the sixth oecumenical council, and call its canons κανόνες τῆς ἒκτης συνόδου. For this reason it was held in the same locality. The Latins opposed it from the start as a ”Synodus erratica,” or ”Conciliabulum pseudosextum.” But they sometimes erroneously ascribed its canons to the sixth council. also the Second Trullan Council, from the banqueting hall with a domed roof in the imperial palace where it was held.639639    Concilium Trullanum in an emphatic sense. The sixth council was held in the same locality.

It was convened by the Emperor Justinian II. surnamed Rinotmetos,640640    Ῥινότμητος from ῥις, nose, in allusion to his mutilation. one of the most heartless tyrants that ever disgraced a Christian throne. He ruled from 685–695, was deposed by a revolution and sent to exile with a mutilated nose, but regained the throne in 705 and was assassinated in 711.641641    Gibbon (ch. 48) gives the following description of his character: “After the decease of his father the inheritance of the Roman world devolved to Justinian II.; and the name of a triumphant law-giver was dishonored by the vices of a boy, who imitated his namesake only in the expensive luxury of building. His passions were strong; his understanding was feeble; and he was intoxicated with a foolish pride that his birth had given him the command of millions, of whom the smallest community would not have chosen him for their local magistrate. His favorite ministers were two beings the least susceptible of human sympathy, a eunuch and a monk: to the one he abandoned the palace, to the other the finances; the former corrected the emperor’s mother with a scourge, the latter suspended the insolvent tributaries, with their heads downward, over a slow and smoky fire. Since the days of Commodus and Caracalla the cruelty of the Roman princes had most commonly been the effect of their fear; but Justinian, who possessed some vigor of character, enjoyed the sufferings, and braved the revenge of his subjects about ten years, till the measure was full of his crimes and of their patience.”

The supplementary council was purely oriental in its composition and spirit. It adopted 102 canons, most of them old, but not yet legally or oecumenically sanctioned. They cover the whole range of clerical and ecclesiastical life and discipline, and are valid to this day in the Eastern church. They include eighty-five apostolic canons so called (thirty-five more than were acknowledged by the Roman church), the canons of the first four oecumenical councils, and of several minor councils, as Ancyra, Neo-Caesarea, Gangra, Antioch, Laodicea, etc.; also the canons of Dionysius the Great of Alexandria, Peter of Alexandria, Gregory Thaumaturgus, Athanasius, Basil, Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory of Nazianzum, Amphilochius of Iconium, Timothy of Alexandria, Cyril of Alexandria, Gennadius of Constantinople, and an anti-Roman canon of Cyprian of Carthage. The decretals of the Roman bishops are ignored.

The canons were signed first, by the emperor; the second place was left blank for the pope, but was never filled; then follow the names of Paul of Constantinople, Peter of Alexandria, Anastasius of Jerusalem, George of Antioch (strangely after that of the patriarch of Jerusalem), and others, in all 211 bishops and episcopal representatives, all Greeks and Orientals, of whom 43 had been present at the sixth oecumenical council.

The emperor sent the acts of the Trullan Council to Sergius of Rome, and requested him to sign them. The pope refused because they contained some chapters contrary to ecclesiastical usage in Rome. The emperor dispatched the chief officer of his body guard with orders to bring the pope to Constantinople. But the armies of the exarch of Ravenna and of the Pentapolis rushed to the protection of the pope, who quieted the soldiers; the imperial officer had to hide himself in the pope’s bed, and then left Rome in disgrace.642642    This is related by Anastasius, Bede, and Paulus Diaconus. See Mansi, XII. 3, Baronius ad a. 692, and Hefele, III. 346. Soon afterwards Justinian II. was dethroned and sent into exile. When he regained the crown with the aid of a barbarian army (705), he sent two metropolitans to Pope John VII. with the request to call a council of the Roman church, which should sanction as many of the canons as were acceptable. The pope, a timid man, simply returned the copy. Subsequent negotiations led to no decisive result.

The seventh oecumenical Council (787) readopted the 102 canons, and erroneously ascribed them to the sixth oecumenical Council.

The Roman church never committed herself to these canons except as far as they agreed with ancient Latin usage. Some of them were inspired by an anti-Roman tendency. The first canon repeats the anathema on Pope Honorius. The thirty-sixth canon, in accordance with the second and fourth oecumenical Councils, puts the patriarch of Constantinople on an equality of rights with the bishop of Rome, and concedes to the latter only a primacy of honor, not a supremacy of jurisdiction. Clerical marriage of the lower orders is sanctioned in canons 3 and 13, and it is clearly hinted that the Roman church, by her law of clerical celibacy, dishonors wedlock, which was instituted by God and sanctioned by the presence of Christ at Cana. But second marriage is forbidden to the clergy, also marriage with a widow (canon 3), and marriage after ordination (canon 6). Bishops are required to discontinue their marriage relation (canon 12). Justinian had previously forbidden the marriage of bishops by a civil law. Fasting on the Sabbath in Lent is forbidden (canon 55) in express opposition to the custom in Rome. The second canon fixes the number of valid apostolical canons at eighty-five against fifty of the Latin church. The decree of the Council of Jerusalem against eating blood and things strangled (Acts 15) is declared to be of perpetual force, while in the West it was considered merely as a temporary provision for the apostolic age, and for congregations composed of Jewish and Gentile converts. The symbolical representation of Christ under the figure of the lamb in allusion to the words of John the Baptist is forbidden as belonging to the Old Testament, and the representation in human form is commanded (canon 82).

These differences laid the foundation for the great schism between the East. and the West. The supplementary council of 692 anticipated the action of Photius, and clothed it with a quasi-oecumenical authority.



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