Christian communities during the last Sasanian conquest 60424

Followingthe deposition and murder of Emperor Maurice in 602, King of Kings Chosroes II (590-628) soon succeeded in regaining Persian territories lost to the Byzantines.13 Between 604 and 611, the Sasanian army directed successful

9 Dorfmann-Lazarev Armeniens et Byzantins, 96-129.

11 Cyril of Alexandria, Commentarii in lohannem 2, 10.15, 232.

12 Xosrovik T'argmaniC, "Chapter I," 50, 54.

campaigns in Armenia (thence proceeding to Georgia), Upper Mesopotamia, Syria, and Cappadocia. Antioch and Apamea were occupied in 610, Emesa in 611, Damascus and Tarsus in 613. Thus Syria was cut off from the empire. In 614 Jerusalem was sacked, the Chalcedonian population slaughtered, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher burned, and the relic of the True Cross carried off to Seleucia-Ctesiphon, the Persian capital. This last had a particularly demoralizing effect on Byzantium and was interpreted by many as an apocalyptic event. Shortly afterwards Tarsus and Cilicia were occupied. Alexandria fell in 619, and by 620 Africa was conquered as far as Ethiopia to the south and Libya to the west.

The Chalcedonian clergy, whom the invaders associated with their enemy, were expelled from Mesopotamia and Syria. Those Christians who had been at variance with the imperial church became, in the eyes of the Persians, potential allies.14 The miaphysites, who had been driven underground by the imperial regime, did not oppose the invaders and occasionally welcomed them, seeing in the Persians liberation from the emperor's persecution. Since Jacob Baradaeus's time the miaphysites had expanded into the Persian lands and now represented the dominant Christian group in the territories controlled by the King of Kings. Consequently, Chosroes chose to rely on them in order to consolidate his conquests. He allowed them to establish church structures in the conquered territories, to recover their goods confiscated by the imperial administration, to take over the abandoned sacred buildings of the Chalcedo-nians, and to build new churches.

The Persian reconquest facilitated the formal condemnation of the Chalcedonian doctrine in Armenia in 607. Thereafter the Church of Atuank1 (Caucasian Albania) succumbed progressively to confessional and cultural dependence on the Armenian Church.15 In Georgia, by contrast, where Persian control was looser, the local church was able to affirm its pro-Byzantine religious affiliation in an effort to escape Armenian tutelage. Thus in the years 608-10, the schism between the Armenian and Georgian churches was consummated. In southern Mesopotamia Chosroes II seems to have supported the dominance of the Church of the East.16 Chosroes' benevolence toward his Christian subjects did not endure, however, and when, in 625, the Persian army began losing battles to the Byzantines, the king turned against both eastern dyophysites and miaphysites.

14 Flusin, "Eglise," 667-705.

15 Mahé, "L'eglise arménienne," 462-74, 507-509.

16 Winkler, "Zeitalter der Sassaniden," 38-42.

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