The Political Position of Roman Bishops in the Arian Controversy of the 4th Century

Zakharov Georgiy E.

The article offers a reconstruction of the political position of the popes in the Arian controversy of the 4th century. Conversion of Constantine and the christianization of the Empire in the 4th century posed a difficult question about the place of the Christian emperor in the Church and his relationship with the episcopate. During the Arian crisis Roman bishops showed relative independence in relation to the imperial power, which can be explained by a certain distance of Rome from the imperial courts. At the same time, such autonomy could lead to tragic consequences, as it was attested, for example, by the so-called “fall” of Pope Liberius. Despite the fact that the Roman see developed the idea of Rome as a “city of saints”, relying more on the city-state republican than the imperial tradition, Roman bishops used elements of the imperial discourse in developing the idea of the Roman primacy and sought its recognition by the imperial power.

Keywords: early Christianity, Roman Church, Arian controversy, imperial power, Julius I, Liberius, Damasus I, Roman primacy, church policy

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