Info

only the universal church is the true church. As for the military response, Donatists brought it upon themselves.160

The circumcelliones' religious war was mixed with rebellion against the conditions of the rural underclass. Donatists were similarly implicated in the revolts of the Berber chiefs Firmus (372-5) and Gildo (397-8). Responding to Firmus' revolt, the imperial government resumed legislation against the Donatists: re-baptism was outlawed and the confiscation of Donatist property was renewed (CTh 16.6.1 and 2). Legal repression of Donatists continued with Theodosius' anti-heretical legislation and - after some interruption - was resumed under Honorius. From 393, African general councils under Aurelius attempted a conciliatory strategy of re-unification: Donatist bishops with their flocks were encouraged to join the Catholic Church (which was suffering from a severe clergy shortage). Catholics planned to send delegations to Donatists to convince them that their schism made no sense. This 'softly, softly' approach was partly inspired by the tireless Augustine who spared no effort (and no ink!) to heal the schism; his numerous anti-Donatist writings addressed almost every historical or theological aspect of the schism.

Despite some local advances, these peace initiatives were generally rejected by Donatists. Finally, in 404, the synod of Carthage dispatched a delegation to the emperor to ask for protection against the Donatists and to demand that Theodosius' anti-heretical legislation be implemented.161 The request was granted and corresponding laws were published (CTh 16.5.38, 16.6.3-5, 16.11.2). This led to further violence and imperial support subsequently faltered. But in 410 the emperor called for a council to settle the matter through debate. The council sat from 1-8 June 411, in Carthage, under the chairmanship of Marcellinus, a Catholic tribunus and friend of Augustine.162 The debate was acrimonious; predictably, Marcellinus favoured the Catholics. His edict issued on 26 June was severe: the churches of Donatist bishops who refused to join the Catholic Church were confiscated. Landowners who did not suppress the circumcelliones lost their estates.163 A Donatist appeal only resulted in a more severe law, issued on 30 January 412: a heavy fine was now levied against Donatists of every social class, graded according to rank; masters were enjoined to admonish their slaves and beat their tenants (coloni) to make them submit. Recalcitrant clergy were exiled, their churches taken over. A similar

160 See Optatus, Against the Donatists.

161 Concilia Africae (CCSL 149), 211-14.

162 See the magisterial edition by S. Lancel (SC 194, 195, 224, 373).

163 Gesta collationis Carthaginis 3 init. (SC 224: 972-9).

0 0

Post a comment