The arrival of the crusaders upset the political and religious balance of the Near East, which in time proved harmful to eastern Christians with the exception ofthe Maronites and possibly the Armenians. In the newly created crusader states the Franks - by definition Latins loyal to Rome - imposed their authority on native Christians, in the same way as on the Muslims. In point of fact, the position of Christians varied according to the community they belonged to. The Melkites had more to lose with the arrival of the crusaders, because they were not only the most numerous in the Latin states, but also recognised as close to the Byzantines. So, following the conquest of Antioch and Jerusalem, the crusaders instituted Latin patriarchs, driving out the existing Melkite patriarchs, who were forced to seek refuge at Constantinople. The same happened with the majority of bishops on the pretext that a single body cannot have two heads. The Melkites were now subject to a Latin hierarchy, which did not, however, insist on the Latin rite. As a result, James of Vitry, bishop of Acre (1216-29), was horrified to discover that the Greek Christians of his diocese had married priests, used leavened bread in the communion service, included the right of confirmation in infant baptism, and omitted the filioque from the Nicene creed.23 Over the twelfth century relations between the Melkites and the Latins in the kingdom ofJerusalem improved somewhat. Relations were more strained in the principality of Antioch, where they were complicated by political conflict with a succession of Byzantine emperors, who had never given up their claim to Antioch and the Orontes valley. They refused to recognise the Latin patriarchs of Antioch, supporting instead a rival line of Orthodox patriarchs in exile at Constantinople.
In contrast, the other churches preserved their own hierarchies, since their patriarchal seats lay outside the Latin states, as did most of their members. Within the Latin states the Jacobites retained their religious autonomy and places of worship. The Jacobite patriarch of Antioch, Michael the Syrian (116699), wrote as follows:
The Franks, who occupied Antioch and Jerusalem, had . . . bishops in their states. And the leaders of our Church lived among them, without being persecuted or harassed by them, for, even if the Franks agreed with the Greeks over the double nature, they still disagreed with them over several points of faith and their customs were quite different. . . [They] never made any difficulties over matters of faith, nor did they seek to impose a single observance on all
23 Lettres de Jacques de Vitry, ed. R. B. C. Huygens (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1960), ii.136-49: 84-5.
Cf.Hamilton, The Latin Church, 163-4.
Was this article helpful?