Nicholas I Mystikus of Constantinople

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Revision as of 15:55, October 22, 2009

His All-Holiness Nicholas I Mystikus or Nicholas I Mystikos, (Greek: Νικόλαος Α΄ Μυστικός, Nikolaos I Mystikos), was the Patriarch of Constantinople for two periods: from March 901 to February 907 and May 912 to 925. He refused to recognize Emperor Leo VI’s marriage to Zoe Karbonopsina, his fourth.

Life

Nicholas I was born in 852 on the Italian peninsula. His early life is largely unknown until he entered the imperial civil service in Constantinople. He was an associate of Patr. Photius I, but fell from favor in the civil service after Photius was deposed in 886. He then was tonsured a monk and entered a monastery. However, he was not in the monastery for long. Emperor Leo VI called him from the monastery and named him a secretary councilor (Mystikus).

On March 1, 901, Nicholas was appointed Patriarch of Constantinople. Soon after, Nicholas became engaged in a dispute with Leo over Leo’s marriage to his mistress Zoe Karbonopsina, who had bore him a successor, the future Constantine VII. Nicholas refused to allow Leo a fourth marriage although he reluctantly agree to the baptism of Constantine. Through a cooperating priest, however, Leo did marry Zoe on January 9, 906. In 907, after Nicholas refused Leo’s demand to consult Pope Sergius concerning the marriage, Nicholas was banished to a monastery and replaced by Euthymius. At the time the restrictions by the Church of Rome on marriage were not as severe as in the Church of Constantinople.

Nicholas was recalled to be patriarchal see in 912, near the time of Leo’s death and his successor Alexander’s enthronement, and became a regent for the Prince Constantine. Nicholas had considered his deposition as unjustified and upon his return a long struggle began between his supporters and those of Euthymius. Nicholas’ relations with Zoe were also strained. He forced her to enter a convent, in 913, after having received a promise from the senate and clergy that she would not be accepted as empress. However, after he made unpopular concessions to the Bulgarians, Zoe returned in March 914 and was able to replace Nicholas as regent and also to get him to recognize her as empress.

Nicholas was allowed to remain patriarch. During the reign of Emperor Romanus I Lecapenus, he finally reconciled with Patriarch Euthymius, thus ending this struggle in the Church of Constantinople. Nicholas also harmonized relations with Pope John X. In a synod in 920, Patr. Nicholas issued a decree that settled the questions of fourth marriages for Christians in the Church of Constantinople. Only three marriages were permitted, but the fourth marriage of Leo VI was allowed for the good of the state in order to settle the line of succession for a legitimate imperial heir.

Nicholas became a strong supporter of Constantine VII after he became emperor in 920 after Admiral Romanus Lekapenus deposed Zoe from the throne in 919 and sent her back to the convent. Patr. Nicholas reposed on May 15, 925.

Succession box:
Nicholas I Mystikus of Constantinople
Preceded by:
Antony II Kauleas
Patriarch of Constantinople
901-907
Succeeded by:
Euthymius I Syncellus
Preceded by:
Euthymius I Syncellus
Patriarch of Constantinople
912-925
Succeeded by:
Stephanus II of Amasea
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