theological rejection of traditional piety - especially in regard to its understanding of Jesus Christ as God born by Mary - made his position even more difficult. Finally the emperor had to give in to the combined forces of the monks of the city and the bishop of Alexandria, supported by Rome. A final clash between Eutyches, a venerated old archimandrite, and Bishop Flavian (as well as his successor) in 450-1 finally led to a formal solution of the struggle for power by the promulgation of the fourth canon at the Council of Chalcedon. At that council, the new emperor decided to back the demand of the bishops to put all monks and monastic houses under their authority, with the explicit demand on the bishops to provide for their needs.

These conflicts between the bishops and the monks should not, however, give the impression that monasticism in Constantinople was very different from other places or less orthodox. Instead, they indicate the much more difficult position the bishop had in a city where there were many other sources of power and patronage, especially if he did not belong to the city itself (as, for example, John Chrysostom and Nestorius did not).


In spite of the great differences between the various regions, due to social, political and ecclesiastical factors, there are some common features in the early development of monasticism in the East. First, there is a clear tendency towards communal life and coenobitic structures. The reasons for this are both internal and external. Internally, there was a need for an educational setting and common support. The Sayings of the desert fathers as well as the writings of Evagrius clearly describe the need for training (and the dangers of total solitude); they also emphasise the necessity of routines, which presupposes an overarching scheme of organisation to co-ordinate the lives of individual monks. Externally, there was the danger of violent attacks on scattered and isolated monastic houses, but there was also considerable pressure from bishops and secular authorities for monks to remain settled and orderly. By denouncing unwanted monastic groups as heretics and by legislating about ecclesiastical control, itinerant monastic groups were forced either to settle down or to accept exile. In various ways the ascetic groups in the cities, as well as the ascetic households, were transformed into monasteries. The ideas of total solitude as well as homelessness were given a coenobitic context, as in the examples of recluses inside monasteries and rules stressing total renunciation of ancestry and family. In monastic communities, the spiritual direction of the disciple by his master or the answers of the solitary monks to those seeking

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