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was among those overeager to intervene at Sarai. The main issues seem to have arisen from the proliferation ofsees and recalcitrant prelates, rather than lack of revenues or priestly material. Thus around 1344 the ancient coastal see of Soterioupolis was restored to metropolitan status, provoking indignant protests from the metropolitan of Alania, to whose province it had belonged. A subsequent metropolitan of Alania, Symeon, was himself the butt of repeated complaints from clergymen and a monk around the Lower Don: he was accused of infringing their rights, appropriating their revenues, and simony. A further charge levelled against Symeon at the patriarchal synod in 1356 was presuming to consecrate an incumbent for the 'metropolitan see of the Caucasians'.46

Resolution of this, as of many other cases, was complicated by the rapid turnover of patriarchs, itself a reflection of the instability of imperial regimes at the time: several judgements concerning distant sees shifted with the vagaries of politics in the City. The synod had simultaneously to cope with continuing changes in local circumstances. Many problems were essentially ones of success: the need, for example, to provide Christian priests for numerous and articulate communities. The appearance of a 'metropolitan see of the Caucasians' in the first half of the fourteenth century implies an expansion in Orthodox populations to the south of Alania; so, too, does Metropolitan Symeon's specious argument that besides this see there now existed a separate 'bishopric of Caucasia' which came under his authority. Symeon's presumption - shown to be fraudulent after the synod consulted 'the canonical books' listing the sees - was probably fuelled by his connections with the Mongol khans: the synod noted that with the aid of his 'bishop of Caucasia' he had also consecrated a new bishop for the see at Sarai.47

Symeon was far from unique in being well connected and well funded, or, indeed, in being querulous. Substantial numbers of the Tatar elite became Christians, judging by the names on Greek-language gravestones around Soug-daia and in the mountains of the south-eastern Crimea. The expansion of well-to-do Orthodox households and communities forms the background to a number of disputes involving prelates across an arc of Orthodoxy spanning the north coast of the Black Sea in the first half of the fourteenth century. Thus in 1317 the metropolitan of Sougdaia complained to the synod that patriarchal officials (exarchs) from the metropolitan see of Gotthia were appropriating revenues from churches belonging to his own see. The synod characteristically

46 RPK111, no. 215, 212-17; Reg. no. 2392; Nikephoros Gregoras, xxxvii.6-8:111, 532-3.

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