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alternative centres of power competing with the bishops, something that John Chrysostom, Nestorius and Flavian all had to experience.

This competition for power, both in relation to the imperial family and other prominent patrons and in relation to the public at large, was no doubt an essential factor behind the four major conflicts between the bishops of Constantinople and monastic groups in the city in the period 400-51. A second unmistakable factor was the city's attraction for vagabonds and beggars, many of whom pretended to be monks - at least according to the official sources. Conflicts over interpretation of the gospel and its commands probably constituted a third factor, for the preaching of a radical exactitude (akribeia) among some monks was considered extremely dangerous to the church and its position in society. In the first conflict during the period, John Chrysostom's attempts to get control over the life of the monks of the city greatly contributed to his fall, in which the extremely powerful archimandrite Isaac took a leading role. In this, Isaac was joined by his imperial patrons, large sections of the public whose patron he was, and Theophilus the bishop of Alexandria, who provided ecclesiastical backing.63

The second clash came with the decision to expel from the city Alexander the Sleepless, whose earlier careers in Syria we have already described. In the early 420s, he had settled in an abandoned temple in the centre of the city. There he attracted monks both from outside the capital and from other monastic groups in the city. In his candid preaching, Alexander criticised all who did not live according to apostolic standards. His banishment from Constantinople in the mid 420s came as a joint action of the urban magistrates and the bish-ops.64 Given that a council in Constantinople in 426 condemned Messalians, it is possible (though not self-evident) that he was denounced explicitly as a Messalian. But, as we have already seen, the relationship between Alexander's akoimetoi monks and the Euchites is unclear.

A third clash came in 428 when the archimandrites of the city turned against the new bishop, Nestorius. From his arrival in the city, Nestorius (himself a Syrian monk) set out to reform the church. He was especially keen to confine the monks to their monasteries, accusing them of unseemly behaviour in the streets and secret visits to the houses of the rich, and their abbots of not taking care of their flocks.65 Nestorius' support for an academic Antiochene

63 Our main source is Palladius, Dialogue on the life of StJohn Chrysostom.

64 On this conflict see Caner, Wandering, begging monks, 126-57.

65 The main sources for Nestorius' dealings with the monks are his own Liber Heraclides and the later 'Nestorian' History of Barhadbeshabba; see Cane, Wandering, beggingmonks,

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