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A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography
Marcianus, Flavius, Emperor of the East
Marcianus (8), Flavius, emperor of the East 450â€“457. For his civil history see D. of G. and R. Biogr.
On his accession he found the world distracted by the Eutychian controversy. Theodosius had taken the part of Eutyches and upheld the decision of the "Latrocinium" of Ephesus. His death caused a complete revolution in the church in the East. Pulcheria had always been on the side of pope Leo and orthodoxy and naturally chose for her husband one who shared her views. Marcian, in his first letter to Leo (S. Leonis, Ep. lxxiii. in Migne, Patr. Lat. liv. 900), speaks of the assembling of a council under Leo's influence. For the correspondence between Marcian, Pulcheria, and Leo relating to the proposed council see LEO I. The disturbed state of the ecclesiastical atmosphere was probably the motive of Marcian's law of July 12, 451, against brawling in churches and holding meetings in private houses or in the streets (Codex, lib. i. tit. xii. 5). The same year Eutyches was banished, though not so far from Constantinople as Leo ( Ep. lxxxiv.) wished, and orders were issued by the emperor convening a council. Originally intended to meet at Nicaea on Sept. 1, pressure of public business prevented the emperor, then in Thrace, from going so far from Constantinople, so the bishops assembled at Nicaea were directed to repair to Chalcedon (Mansi, vi. 552, 558). For a detailed account of the proceedings of the council see DIOSCORUS and EUTYCHES. Marcian and Pulcheria were present only at the sixth session on Oct. 25, when the emperor made short speeches in Greek and Latin to the assembled bishops, who received him and the empress enthusiastically as a new Constantine and a new Helena. [See EUTYCHES.]
After the council separated Marcian proceeded to enforce its decrees by a series of edicts. The first two, dated Feb. 7 and Mar 13, 452, confirmed the decisions of the council and prohibited public arguments on theological questions that had been settled by them once for all, as thereby the divine mysteries were exposed to the profane gaze of Jews and pagans (Mansi, vii. 475â€“480). A third, of July 6, repealed the constitution promulgated by Theodosius at the instigation of the Eutychians against Flavian and his adherents Eusebius and Theodoret (ib. 497â€“500) A fourth, dated July 28 ( ib. 501â€“506), imposed heavy penalties and disabilities on the Eutychians. Another law, dated Aug. 1, 455, re-enacted the same provisions with trifling variations and subjected the Eutychians to all penalties imposed upon the Apollinarists by former emperors ( ib. 517â€“520). The emperor wrote to the monks of Alexandria by Joannes the Decurio ( ib. 481), exhorting them to abandon their errors and to submit to the decrees of Chalcedon. The troubles at Alexandria, however, were too great to be appeased by words. The arrival of Proterius, the bishop appointed in place of Dioscorus, led to violent riots (Evagr. 229, 293).
Palestine was likewise in a disturbed state. Some of the monks of the defeated side, who had attended the council, on their return, headed by Theodosius, a violent monk who had been their leader in the council, stirred up an insurrection of the whole body of desert monks (ib. 293). Juvenalis, bp. of Jerusalem, had, after his return, to fly for his life. Severianus, bp. of Scythopolis, was killed by an assassin sent in pursuit of Juvenalis; Jerusalem was seized by the infuriated monks; houses were burnt, murders were perpetrated, the prisons broken open and criminals released, and finally Theodosius was elected bishop. Marcian, hearing of the outrages, wrote to the archimandrites, monks, and inhabitants of Jerusalem, rebuked them sharply, ordered the punishment of the guilty, and placed a garrison in Jerusalem (Mansi, vii. 487â€“495).
Marcian also took measures to suppress the last remnants of paganism. By a law of Nov. 12, 451 (Codex , lib. i. tit. xi. 7), he forbade, under pain of death, the reopening of the closed temples, and the offering sacrifices, libations, or incense in them, or even adorning them with flowers, and at the end of his law of Aug. 1, 455, directed the strict enforcement of the laws against paganism.
In Apr. 454 he passed a law granting to nuns, deaconesses, and widows the power of making testamentary dispositions in favour of the church or clergy and repealing all previous contrary enactments. In Apr. 456 he passed another (ib. tit. iii. 25, and tit. iv. 13), by which proceedings against the oeconomus or other clerics of the churches in Constantinople were to be taken at the plaintiff's desire either before the archbishop or the prefect of the city, and no oaths tendered to clerics, who were forbidden to swear by the laws of the church and an ancient canon.
Dying Jan. 457 (Theod. Lect. 565), aged 65, after a reign of 6Â½ years, he was buried in the church of the Apostles at Constantinople (Cedrenus, 607, in Patr. Gk. cxxi. 659).
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Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Marcianus, Flavius, Emperor of the East'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hwd/m/marcianus-flavius-emperor-of-the-east.html. 1911.
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