The Catholic Church called for the Waldensian massacres.

Introduction

This is a summary of primarily the following Wikipedia articles:

Waldensians
Waldensian Wars

Our knowledge of the medieval history of the Waldensians comes almost exclusively from the records of the Roman Catholic Church, the same organization that condemned them as heretics and persecuted them fiercely. 

The Waldensians were an ascetic movement within Christianity, reputedly founded in Lyon around 1173. (Lyon is the third-largest city and second-largest urban area of France.) This movement quickly spread to areas that are part of France and Italy today.

Summary

The Waldensians were characterized by lay preaching, voluntary poverty, and strict adherence to the Bible. They were critical of Catholic beliefs and identified the Catholic Church as the harlot of the Book of Revelation.

The Catholic Church declared the Waldensians heretical. In 1487 Pope Innocent VIII issued the Bull of Extermination against the Waldensians, which called all to destroy the Waldensians in any way possible, absolving all who perpetrate such crimes.

The Waldensians found reformers’ ideas similar to theirs and quickly merged into the larger Protestant movement. But the Waldensians were still fiercely persecuted, for example, in the Massacre of Mérindol in 1545. 

In 1655 the soldiers of the Duke of Savoy did not simply slaughter the Waldensian; they looted, raped, and tortured. This became known as the Piedmont Easter massacre, and was caused by constant pressure exerted by the Council of Propagation of the Faith and the Extermination of Heresy, an institution of the Roman Catholic Church; established in Turin in 1650.

In 1685, King Louis XIV of France began to purge his territory of Waldensians. French troops forced 8,000 to convert to Catholicism, killed about 2,000 Waldensians, and incarcerated about 8,500 in several fortresses. The government confiscated Waldensian properties and the valleys were resettled by Catholic subjects. 

Such persecutions continued intermittently until the French Revolution when the Waldenses were assured liberty of conscience.

Waldensian Beliefs

Waldensian symbol – A light shines in the darkness

The Waldensians translated the New Testament into their language. The French Bible, translated in 1535, was partly based on this Waldensian translation.

They rejected several beliefs widely held in Christian Europe of the era. For example, the Waldensians held that:

    • Temporal offices were not meant for preachers of the Gospel,
    • Relics were no different from any other bones and should not be regarded as special or holy,
    • Pilgrimages served only to spend hard-earned money,
    • Holy water was no more efficacious than rainwater, and that
    • Prayer was just as effectual if offered in a church or a barn.
    • They scoffed at the doctrine of transubstantiation.

They spoke of the Catholic Church as the harlot of the Apocalypse (Babylon) and identified the Papacy as the Antichrist.

Catholic Response

The Catholic Church excommunicated them in 1180 and forced them from Lyon. By 1215, the Catholic Church declared them heretical and subjected them to intense persecution.

Illustrations depicting Waldensians as witches in Le champion des dames, by Martin Le France, 1451
Waldensians depicted as witches

In 1487 Pope Innocent VIII issued the Bull of Extermination against the Vaudois (Waldensians – see the book Israel of the Alps-chapter II), in which he called all rulers of nations to take up arms for their destruction. He summoned all Catholics to a crusade against them, absolved all who should take part in this crusade from all ecclesiastical penalties, legitimized their possession of goods that they might have stolen, and promised the remission of all sins to everyone who should kill a heretic. Moreover, he annulled all contracts with the “Vaudois, commanded their domestics to abandon them, forbade anyone to give them any assistance, and authorized all and sundry to seize upon their goods.”

Joined the Reformation

The Waldensians found the Reformers’ ideas similar to theirs and quickly merged into the larger Protestant movement. In 1532, they formally became a part of the Calvinist tradition. Some Protestant scholars regard the Waldensians as early forerunners of the Reformation, similar to the followers of John Wycliffe and Jan Hus, who had maintained the apostolic faith in the face of Catholic oppression and were also persecuted for it.

Sixteenth Century

The Massacre of Mérindol took place in 1545 when Francis I of France ordered the Waldensians of the village of Mérindol to be punished for dissident religious activities. Provençal and Papal soldiers killed hundreds or even thousands of Waldensian villagers. 

In 1560, Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy ordered all Protestants in his domain to revert to Catholicism. The Waldensians petitioned him, saying they had always stayed loyal to him and that their religion was the same as Jesus Christ originally taught. 

The duke’s noblemen were Catholic while the Waldensians were peasants. Tensions rose and eventually escalated to violence from 4 April to 5 July 1560.

Charles Emmanuel II

In the 17th century, the Duke of Savoy attempted to exterminate the Waldensians. This led to the exodus and dispersion of the Waldensians to other parts of Europe. (Savoy is a region in Europe. It was annexed to France in 1792.)

The Savoyard–Waldensian Wars were a series of conflicts between the Waldensians and the Savoyard troops from 1655 to 1690 (The Savoyard state is a name used by historians to denote collectively all of the states ruled by the counts and dukes of Savoy.) The Savoyard–Waldensian Wars were largely persecutions of Waldensians, rather than a military conflict. The Waldensians were nearly annihilated. In summary: 

In January 1655, Charles Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy commanded the Waldensians to attend Mass or move to the upper valleys of their homeland. Since this was in the midst of winter, the order was intended to persuade the Waldensians to become Catholics. However, most of the populace abandoned their homes in the lower valleys. They “waded through the icy waters, climbed the frozen peaks, and at length reached the homes of their impoverished brethren of the upper Valleys, where they were warmly received.”

By mid-April 1655, the Duke sent troops into the upper valleys. The Duke’s forces did not simply slaughter the inhabitants. They are reported to have unleashed an unprovoked campaign of looting, rape, and torture.

According to a report by Peter Liegé:

Little children were torn from the arms of their mothers and their heads dashed against the rocks. Mangled bodies were thrown on the highways or fields, to be devoured by beasts. The sick and the aged were burned alive in their dwellings. Some had their hands and arms and legs lopped off, and fire applied to the severed parts to staunch the bleeding and prolong their suffering. Some were roasted alive, some disemboweled; or tied to trees and their hearts cut out. Others were buried alive. Parents were compelled to look on while their children were first raped, then massacred, before being themselves permitted to die. (Wylie, J. A. (1996) [1860]. History of the Waldenses. Hartland. p. 132. ISBN 9780923309305)

This massacre became known as the Piedmont Easter.

Alexis Muston, a 19th-century French Protestant pastor based in Bordeaux, claimed in L’Israel des Alpes (Israel of the Alps – Paris 1852) that neither Duke Charles Emmanuel II of Savoy nor the Waldensians themselves had sought to wage war and that both parties were content to maintain the peace. These atrocities were committed due to the constant pressure exerted by the New Council of Propagation of the Faith and the Extermination of Heresy (Concilium Novum de Propaganda Fide et Extirpandis Haereticis), an institution of the Roman Catholic Church established in Turin in 1650.

King Louis XIV

The 1598 Edict of Nantes guaranteed freedom of religion to the Protestant subjects in France. In 1685, King Louis XIV of France revoked this edict and started to purge his territory of Waldensians. French troops sent into the Waldensian areas forced 8,000 to convert to Catholicism through baptism and by placing children in Catholic homes. On 22 May about 2,000 Waldensians were killed in the fighting or massacred afterward. About 3,000 left for Germany. About 8,500 were incarcerated in several fortresses. The government confiscated Waldensian properties and the valleys were resettled by Catholic subjects. 

On 3 January 1687, the released prisoners were granted permission to leave the country, but only 3,841 had survived by that time and only 2565 reached Geneva.

The Genevan Waldensian exiles formed a rebel army of about 900 men in the summer of 1689, with the objective of returning home and retaking possession of their valleys. This event is known as the “Glorious Return”. The Waldensians suffered many losses due to hardships during the journey. French troops blocked their way, but the Protestants defeated them and reached their valleys on 6 September. They plundered the farms of the new Catholic settlers and ambushed ducal patrols. The Glorious Return was a great success, despite the heavy casualties.

Victor Amadeus II

But Louis XIV was determined to crush the Waldensians once and for all. He demanded Duke of Savoy, Victor Amadeus II to cooperate. Victor Amadeus requested several times that the Waldensians would pack up and leave his domain again without being attacked, but this offer was refused.

Louis moved to finish the Waldensians off himself. However, on 28 May 1690 Victor Amadeus signed a truce with the Waldensians and made plans for a joint attack on the French invaders. Also, on 4 June, Victor Amadeus II recalled the Waldensians from abroad back home to Piedmont. The vast majority did indeed return to their valleys in northwestern Italy.

In this way, Duke Victor Amadeus effectively put an end to the Savoyard-Waldensian Wars, as the duchy once again tolerated the presence of Protestant subjects on its territory, and protected them against the French troops invading Piedmont.

But this was not to last long. On 29 June 1696, Savoy concluded a separate peace with France, which required that all Protestants be expelled from Savoy. In 1698, Victor Amadeus forced about 3,000 Protestants to leave the Waldensian valleys.

French Revolution

After the French Revolution, beginning in 1789, the Waldenses were assured liberty of conscience.

Other Articles

Justinian and the Byzantine Papacy made an end to Arianism.

Purpose

JUSTINIAN THE GREAT

This article series has a dual purpose:

Firstly, it shows that the decision to adopt the Trinity doctrine was not taken by Councils but by the Roman Emperors; particularly Constantine, Theodosius, and Justinian. 

Secondly, it identifies the 11th horn of Daniel 7. After the fourth beast in Daniel 7 has already fragmented into many kingdoms, an 11th horn grows out of that beast (Dan 7:7, 24). That horn becomes God’s all-time great adversary (Dan 7:25) and is destroyed only when Christ returns (Dan 7:9-14). A comparison of the beasts of Daniel 7 and 8 identifies the fourth beast as the Roman Empire. Since the current article series also explains the history of the fall of the Roman Empire, it also identifies that 11th horn.

Summary of this article

Fall of the Western Roman Empire

In the fifth century, the Germanic people, who have migrated into the Western Roman Empire over the previous century or more, became a dominant force within the Western Roman Empire due to their large numbers and military supremacy. They revolted against the severe conditions under which they were allowed to remain in the Empire, sacked Rome twice, and deposed the last Roman Emperor. Through wars, they divided up the territory of the Western Empire into Germanic kingdoms. However, these nations at least pretended to function as part of the Roman Empire—under the governance of the Emperor in Constantinople.

Although they were Arian Christians, they allowed the Roman peoples and the Roman Church to remain in their territories. This is one indication of the desire of these immigrants to remain part of the Roman Empire.

The Roman Church had to depend on the Arian nations for physical protection. But still, the Roman Church managed to grow in strength, partly due to its central and superior organization and administration and expertise in statecraft from years of being part of the Roman Government in the fourth century.

Unity of Church and State

Justinian I was the emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire (also called the Byzantine Empire) from 527 to 565. 

It is important to understand that separation of Church and State did not exist at that time. In the view of the time, the Christian Roman Emperor was regarded as God’s agent on earth. The supreme bishops of the Empire – the spiritual heads of the Christian world – acted in harmony with him. Church and State, therefore, were one. Justinian believed that “he had the right and duty of regulating by his laws the minutest details of worship and discipline.”

His authority was not limited to the church in the east. In Justinian’s view, the Church included the Church in Rome and he, as emperor, had the right and duty to also protect and regulate the Church in Rome. 

The Imperial conviction always was that the unity of the Empire presupposes the unity of faith. Emperor Justinian protected the ‘purity’ of the faith by persecuting and killing ‘heretics’.

Delivered the Papacy from Arian domination.

After the Germanic peoples, in the fifth century, divided the territory of the Western Empire between them, the Church in Rome was subject to their laws and customs. The Roman Church was unable to dominate or to compel the population in Europe to comply with its doctrines.

As a keen supporter of the Nicene church in Rome, Justinian considered it his divine duty to restore the Roman Empire to its ancient boundaries and to liberate the church in Rome from Arian domination. He sent troops to combat the Arian nations in the west:

      • They dispersed the Vandals of North Africa to the fringes of the empire.
      • Following their final defeat at the Battle of Mons Lactarius in 553, the Ostrogoths went back north and (re)settled in South Austria.
      • Justinian’s troops recovered a small strip of land along the Mediterranean coast which formed a barrier between the Visigoths and Rome.

It is remarkable that Justinian attacked the Christian nations in the west, but was willing to negotiate a truce with the pagan nations to his east. As it turned out, in later years, these pagan nations later became Muslim countries and conquered most of the previous territory of the Eastern Empire.

Byzantine Papacy

Justinian’s wars conquered the Italian peninsula and delivered the church in Rome from Arian domination. This commenced the period of about two centuries which is known today as the Byzantine Papacy because the Byzantine monarch claimed for himself the right to approve the appointment of the bishop of Rome.

On the one hand, the Roman Church was now once again subject to the authority of the Roman (Byzantine) Emperor. On the other hand, the Nicene Church (the Byzantine Papacy), with the protection and status it received from the Byzantine Empire, became a powerful social and political institution in Europe. 

This relationship also allowed the Byzantine Empire, through the Byzantine Papacy, a certain level of control over the Germanic nations in the West. To some extent, the Roman Empire was reunited.

The Germanic tribes, consequently, during the Byzantine Papacy, abandoned Arianism in favor of Catholicism. By the 8th century, Arianism had ceased to be the mainstream belief of the Germanic people as the tribal rulers gradually came to adopt Nicene orthodoxy.

Conclusions

Firstly, this article shows how the Trinity Doctrine was advanced by the military might of the Roman Empire. If Justinian, followed by the Byzantine Papacy, did not wipe out Arianism in the territory of the Western Empire, Arianism might still have dominated the church today. It is not possible to deny the decisive influence which emperors such as Constantine, Constantius, Valens, Theodosius, and Justinian had on the church’s acceptance of the Trinity doctrine.

Secondly, this article helps us to identify the little horn of Daniel 7 as the Nicene Church. As predicted in Daniel 7:

    • The Roman Empire was divided into MANY FRAGMENTS (symbolically, the 10 horns),
    • The 11th horn comes into existence AFTER the Roman Empire has already been fragmented into many kingdoms (horns), and
    • It UPROOTED THREE of the other horns as it came up; the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and the Vandals.

– END OF SUMMARY –

Fall of the Western Roman Empire

Barbarians divided the territory of Western Rome

Arian and Chalcedonian kingdoms in 495
Arian and Chalcedonian kingdoms in 495

In the fifth century, the Germanic people, who have migrated into the Western Roman Empire over a century or more, became a dominant force within the Western Roman Empire due to their large numbers and military supremacy. They revolted against the severe conditions under which they were allowed to remain in the Empire, sacked Rome twice, and deposed the last Roman Emperor. Through wars, they divided up the territory of the Western Empire into Germanic kingdoms. However, these nations continued to function as part of the Roman Empire—under the governance of the Emperor in Constantinople.

Tolerated the Roman Church

There are at least two reasons why the Germanic peoples might have made an end to the Roman Church (the Church in Rome):

Firstly, the Roman Church was part of the Roman government. In the Roman Empire, there was no separation of church and state. The church was a department of government. In practice, the bishop of the Church in Rome was accountable to the Roman Emperor.

Secondly, the Germanic peoples were Arian Christians because they became Christians during the 50 years in the fourth century when the Roman Church was Arian (Fourth Century Arian Period). These Germanic peoples included the Ostrogoths, the Visigoths of Spain, and the Vandals in North Africa.

Despite these facts, the Arian nations allowed the Roman peoples and the Roman Church to remain in their territories. This is one indication of the desire of these immigrants to remain part of the Roman Empire.

The Roman Church grew in strength.

After the Western Roman Empire was divided up into these kingdoms, the Roman Church had to depend on the Arian nations for physical protection. But the Roman Church managed to grow in strength. The reasons include the following:

1. Previously, the Emperor appointed the bishop of Rome and the bishop was subordinate to the Roman Emperor. Now, the church had more independence.

2. The church’s central and superior organization and administration and expertise in statecraft from years of being part of the Roman Government allowed it to stand out among the various Germanic nations that had no central political control.

3. The Germanic nations desired to remain part of the Empire. As the official religion of the Empire, the church had a certain status.

Unity of Church and State

Justinian I is traditionally known as Justinian the Great. He was the Eastern Roman emperor from 527 to 565. He ruled from Constantinople; the capital of the empire. Due to his religious preferences and actions, he is venerated by the Roman Catholic Church and by some other churches.

What was the Byzantine Empire?

This article often refers to the “Byzantine Empire.” Byzantium was an ancient Greek colony in early antiquity that later became Constantinople; the capital of the Roman Empire.

The Byzantine Empire is simply another name for the Eastern Roman Empire after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. The Byzantine Empire, therefore, was the continuation of the Roman Empire.

Byzantine Empire is a term created after the end of that empire. Its citizens referred to their empire simply as the Roman Empire and to themselves as Romans.

Church and State were One.

It is important to understand the context of the time. A Cambridge article explains the relationship between church and state in the Byzantine Empire:

The idea of papal sovereignty was foreign to the Byzantines. … unintelligible, unreasonable, and unhistorical. … (in) their concept of the order of the Christian world … The Christian Roman Emperor was the elect of God and God’s vice-gerent (God’s agent on earth) on earth … His patriarchs or supreme bishops of the Christian Empire … were the spiritual heads of the Christian world, acting in harmony with him. Church and State were therefore one, indissoluble and interdependent.

Modern readers may find this lack of separation of Church and State may be difficult to grasp but unless we understand this concept, we will not understand the history of the church or of the process through which the Trinity doctrine became accepted.

Similar to his predecessors, Justinian believed that “he had the right and duty of regulating by his laws the minutest details of worship and discipline, and also of dictating the theological opinions to be held in the Church”.1Ayer, John Cullen, ed. (1913). A Source Book for Ancient Church History. Mundus Publishing (2008 reprint). p. 553 The Emperor regulated everything:

At the very beginning of his reign, he promulgated by law the Church’s belief in the Trinity and the Incarnation and threatened all heretics with the appropriate penalties.[See Wikipedia page on Justinian 1]

He made the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan creed the sole symbol of the Church: “We direct that all Catholic churches, throughout the entire world, shall be placed under the control of the orthodox bishops who have embraced the Nicene Creed.” (Codex Justinianus)

Justinian felt entitled to settle disputes in papal elections, as he did when he favored Vigilius and had his rival Silverius deported.

As a result, the church within the Eastern Roman Empire had become firmly tied with the imperial government. Church and State were one.

Including the Church in the West

The First Council of Nicaea in 325 affirmed that the bishop of a provincial capital had a certain authority over the other bishops of the province. It also recognized the authority of the sees of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch and granted special recognition to Jerusalem. The First Council of Constantinople in 381 added the see of Constantinople.

Emperor Justinian assigned to those five sees (including Rome) a superior ecclesial authority that covered the whole of his empire. In other words, in Justinian’s view, the Church included the Church in Rome and he, as emperor, had the right and duty also to protect and regulate the Church in Rome

A Genuine Interest in the Church

Justinian had a genuine interest in the church. Over the course of his reign, he authored a small number of theological treatises. He was indeed a “nursing father” of the Church. Both the Codex and the Novellae contain many enactments to benefit the church. Just in Constantinople, he built 25 churches (see traditioninaction). Justinian also rebuilt the Church of Hagia Sophia, with its numerous chapels and shrines, gilded octagonal dome, and mosaics.

Suppressed Heretics

Even before Christianity was legalized in 313, the Imperial conviction always was that the unity of the Empire presupposes the unity of faith. Emperor Justinian protected the ‘purity’ of the church by suppressing heretics. For example:

The Codex contained two statutes [WIKIPEDIA JUSTINIAN NOTE 76] that decreed the destruction of paganism. These provisions were zealously enforced.

At Constantinople, on one occasion, not a few Manicheans, after strict inquisition, were executed in the emperor’s very presence: some by burning, others by drowning. [WIKIPEDIA JUSTINIAN NOTE 93] Manichaeism was a major religion that was founded by the Iranian prophet Mani. It taught an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness. (See the Wikipedia page on Manichaeism.)

Monophysitism

In the east, in Justinian’s time, the main threat to the orthodoxy was not Arianism but Monophysitism. This sect had many adherents in the eastern provinces of Syria and Egypt. While the Council of Chalcedon in 451 concluded that Jesus has two natures; a divine and a human nature, Monophysitism maintained that Jesus Christ only had one nature; a divine nature or a synthesis of a divine and human nature.

Previous emperors and the Patriarch of Constantinople tolerated Monophysitism and allowed the appointment of Monophysites to church offices but this had been a source of tension in the relationship with the bishop of Rome.

Justin I—Justinian’s predecessor—reversed this policy, confirmed the Chalcedonian doctrine, and openly condemned the Monophysites. This allowed him to reestablish the union between Constantinople and Rome.[WIKIPEDIA – JUSTINIAN – NOTE 75]

Justinian’s policies alternated between ATTEMPTS TO FORCE Monophysites to accept the Chalcedonian creed by persecuting their bishops and monks – thereby embittering their sympathizers in Egypt and other provinces – and ATTEMPTS AT A COMPROMISE that would win over the Monophysites without surrendering the Chalcedonian faith.

Justinian’s wife Theodora favored the Monophysites unreservedly. While Theodosius’ wife is venerated in the Catholic Church because she was a fervent supporter of the Nicene Creed, Empress Theodora, for Catholics, was “one of the most … deplorable figures of ancient history,” for “she became an enemy of the Faith and a supporter of the heresies, and she strove to make Justinian enter into conflict with the Holy See at the end of his life” (traditioninaction). “Near the end of his life, Justinian became ever more inclined towards the Monophysite doctrine” (Wikipedia).

Wars against the Arian nations in the West

After the Germanic peoples divided the territory of the Western Empire between them in the fifth century, the Church in Rome was subject to their laws and customs. 

From a catholic perspective, the website Traditioninaction states that the Catholics at the time were groaning under the yoke of the barbarians. But from a Jewish perspective, “in contrast with the domination of the orthodox church, the Arian was distinguished by a wise tolerance and a mild treatment of the population of other faiths” (Kohler et al, ARIANISM”. Jewish Encyclopedia). 

What we can conclude, at least, is that the Roman Church was unable to dominate or to compel the population in Europe to comply with its doctrines.

As an ardent supporter of the Nicene church in Rome, Justinian considered it his divine duty to restore the Roman Empire to its ancient boundaries and to liberate the church in Rome from Arian domination. Justinian never personally took part in military campaigns, but one of the most spectacular features of Justinian’s reign was the recovery of large stretches of land around the Western Mediterranean basin that had slipped out of Imperial control in the 5th century.

Through these wars, Justinian neutralized the three main Arian nations that prevented the supremacy of the Papacy:

Vandal kingdom of North Africa

The first Arian Christian kingdom which Justinian’s armies attacked was the Vandals in North Africa. Again, from a catholic perspective, “that whole area had been taken over by the worst barbarians, the Vandals” (traditioninaction). Although the Arians generally tolerated other faiths, the Vandals tried for several decades to force their Arian beliefs on their North African Nicene subjects, exiling Nicene clergy, dissolving monasteries, and exercising heavy pressure on non-conforming Nicene Christians. This might have been why Justinian attacked them first.

In the Vandalic War of 533–534, general Belisarius defeated the Vandals.2[WIKIPEDIA ARIANISM NOTE 40] The Vandals were dispersed to the fringes of the empire and became lost to history.

Ostrogoths in Italy

Justinian next attacked the Ostrogoths; another Arian Christian nation. This war may be divided into three phases:

In 535, Belisarius invaded Sicily and advanced into Italy, sacking Naples and capturing Rome in 536. In 540 he reached the Ostrogothic capital Ravenna and reclaimed it for the Empire.[WIKIPEDIA JUSTINIAN NOTE 52]

But Belisarius was recalled in the face of renewed hostilities by the Persians to the East. While military efforts were focused on the east, the Ostrogoths made quick gains in Italy. They reconquered the major cities of Southern Italy and soon held almost the entire Italian peninsula.

The third phase of the war in Italy (from 541 to 554) followed after a truce was agreed upon with the Persians. Following their final defeat at the Battle of Mons Lactarius in 553, the Ostrogoths went back north and (re)settled in south Austria. Through the Gothic War, Justinian restored Dalmatia, Sicily, Italy, and Rome to the empire after more than half a century of Ostrogoth rule.

Visigoths in Spain

In 552, Justinian dispatched a force of 2,000 men to invade Visigothic Hispania: still another Arian Christian Germanic nation. This short-lived reconquest recovered only a small strip of land along the Mediterranean coast, known as the new province of Spania (Hispania) before being checked by the Visigoths. This campaign marked the apogee (apex) of Byzantine expansion. Spania kept the Visigoths as a threat to Hispania alone and not to the western Mediterranean nor to Africa.

Perhaps it is worth commenting that Justinian was willing to negotiate a truce with the pagan nations to the east of his empire but attacked Christian nations in the west. One obvious reason was that his purpose was to reunite the old empire, but it also reveals his intolerance for Arianism.

Byzantine Papacy

After Justinian conquered the Italian peninsula and delivered the church in Rome from Arian domination, he replaced the pope and also appointed the next three popes. In this way, Justinian put the church in the west firmly under the control of the Byzantine monarch. This practice was continued by his successors for the next two centuries. The papacy in the years 537 to 752 is known as the Byzantine Papacy because the Byzantine monarch claimed for himself the right to approve the appointment of the bishop of Rome. This allowed the emperor to also dominate the Papacy in other ways during this period.

Dominance of the Greek Language

One indication of the dominance of the Byzantine Empire, over the church in Rome, during these years, was the Greek dominance of the Roman Church:

The two halves of the Empire always had cultural differences, exemplified particularly by the widespread use of the Greek language in the Eastern Empire and its more limited use in the West. The spoken vernacular in the West was Latin.

During the Byzantine Papacy, countless Easterners rose through the ranks of the clergy in the church in Rome. At the end of the sixth century, Easterners constituted less than one percent of the papal hierarchy. In contrast, according to Ekonomou, over a century later, between 701 and 750, “Greeks outnumbered Latins by nearly three and a half to one”.

This confirms that the church in the west was now once again firmly subject to the authority of the (Eastern) Roman Emperor. 

The Empire reigned over the West.

After Justinian defeated the Goths, the Roman Church was no longer dependent on the Arian Germanic nations for protection. The church and its Nicene Christology, with the protection and status it received from the Byzantine Empire, became a powerful social and political institution in Europe. 

This relationship also allowed the Byzantine Empire, through the Church, a certain level of control over the Germanic nations in the West. To some extent, the Roman Empire was reunited.

Arian conversions to the Papacy

The Franks entered the Western Roman Empire as Pagans. In 496, before the time of Justinian, Clovis I, the pagan king of the Franks, was the first important barbarian ruler to convert to Catholicism rather than to Arianism. He forcibly converted the Franks to Chalcedonian Christianity.

After Justinian established protection for the Papacy, the Germanic tribes, consequently, abandoned Arianism in favor of Catholicism.

The first Germanic ruler to convert from Arianism to Chalcedonian Christianity was Reccared I of the Arian Visigoths in Spain. He converted in 587. Visigothic Spain converted to Catholicism at the Third Council of Toledo in 589

Pope Gregory I reigned from 590 to 604; a few decades after Justinian. He was perhaps the best-known pope of the Byzantine Papacy. Britannica describes him as the first of the medieval popes. With the support of the Byzantine Empire, He reformed the ecclesiastical structures and administration, which then launched renewed missionary efforts to convert the peoples of northern Europe as far north as Ireland. These efforts were able to convert the Arian peoples to Catholic (Nicene) Christianity:

The Anglo-Saxons of Southern Britain were the predecessors of the English. They had never been part of the Empire and were entirely pagan, but were forcibly converted by their king Æthelberht of Kent, following the work of missionaries sent by Pope Gregory the Great.

The Anglo-Saxons in turn sent missionaries to northwestern Europe – to what is now the Netherlands. 

The Visigoths also converted to Catholicism during the Byzantine Empire.

Aripert I of the Lombards converted to Catholic Church in 653. Grimwald, King of the Lombards (662–671) and his young son and successor Garibald (671) were the last Arian kings in Europe. By 700, the Lombards in northern Italy have moved away from Arianism to Catholicism.

By the 8th century, Arianism had ceased to be the mainstream belief of the Germanic people as the tribal rulers gradually came to adopt Nicene orthodoxy.

Conclusions

Trinity Doctrine

Firstly, this article shows how the Trinity Doctrine was advanced by the military might of the Roman Empire. What would the Christian world have looked like if Justinian did not effectively wipe out Unitarianism (Arianism) in the territory of the Western Empire? If Europe was allowed to remain Unitarian, Unitarianism might have dominated the church today.

The Little Horn

Secondly, this article helps us to identify the little horn of Daniel 7 as the mainstream Christian Church:

Daniel 7 This article confirms:
The fourth empire, identified as the Roman Empire, divides into many fragments – symbolized as 10 or 11 horns. The current article mentions some of these kingdoms, such as the Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Vandals, Franks, and the Anglo-Saxons.
The little horn comes into existence AFTER the fourth (Roman) empire has already been fragmented into many kingdoms (horns). The Papacy was not able to dominate until after Justinian conquered the Arian nations.
The little horn uprooted three of the other horns as it came up. The Roman Empire uprooted the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and the Vandals to establish the Papacy.
The eleventh horn will become larger than the others, persecute the saints, and attempt to change the law.
The next articles will explain this.

Other Articles

FOOTNOTES

  • 1
    Ayer, John Cullen, ed. (1913). A Source Book for Ancient Church History. Mundus Publishing (2008 reprint). p. 553
  • 2
    [WIKIPEDIA ARIANISM NOTE 40]