(431) for privileging the human nature of Christ. Having embraced the Nesto-rian confession in 486 the church of Persia had established its independence under the authority of a patriarch, who resided at Seleukeia. In the face of Byzantine hostility most of the Syrian Nestorians settled in the Persian Empire. After the Arabic conquest the Nestorians experienced their hour of glory under the Abbasids, when a number of them held high administrative office or were employed as secretaries and doctors and were highly esteemed. In 780 their catholicos11 Timothy I transferred his residence from Ctesiphon to Baghdad. The language and culture of this church is Syriac. Even in Baghdad, but especially in northern Mesopotamia, it was in competition with other Syrians in the shape of the Jacobites. Some modern writers, such as Pere Fiey, distinguish the eastern Syrians (Nestorians) from the western Syrians (Jacobites). In the twelfth century the Jacobite metropolitan in charge of the Oriental territories (i.e. those formerly included in the Sassanian Empire) took the title of maphrian and established himself at Takrit, which provoked the pillaging and confiscation of churches.12 In the middle of the twelfth century the maphrian moved to the monastery of Mar Mattai, close to Mosul, which from 1127 was the capital of an autonomous principality. There the Jacobite and Nestorian communities enjoyed a period of stability and prosperity, of which the most notable evidence is their contribution to the development of the art of inlayed metal ware.13

The Nestorian Church was divided into 'interior' and 'exterior' provinces. The former covered Mesopotamia (Nisibis, Basra, Irbil, Mosul) and the confines of Iran, while the latter corresponded to the 'Orient' (eastern Iran, Arabia, central Asia, China, the coasts of India and Indonesia), where Nestorianism established itself as a result of intense missionary activity between the fifth and eighth centuries. If Christianity was in full retreat in Iran by the end of the eleventh century, the communities further to the east continued to exist and excited the interest of westerners, who discovered the 'Orient' in the thirteenth century, but their history lies outside the remit of this chapter.

Each of these churches was autonomous under the guidance of a patriarch -also called pope in the Coptic Church or catholicos in the Nestorian Church. Lists of these patriarchs were established long ago, even if more recent studies have made some slight additions and corrections. Designation of patriarch was by election. The future patriarch was chosen by an assembly, the composition

11 This is the term currently in use for the Nestorian patriarch.

12 The title is first mentioned in 1123.

13 See J.-M. Fiey Mossoul chretienne (Beirut: Imprimerie catholique, 1959); E. Baer, Ayyubid metalwork with Christian images (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1988).

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