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support for the emperor of the day was clearly determined by self-interest. Besides, the monks of Athos, constantly squabbling over properties and matters of discipline, were far from a united bloc and relatively few saw themselves as cheerleaders for individual emperors. None the less many senior monks and leading holy men on the mountain had strong personal ties with the patriarchate of Constantinople, which assumed formal responsibility for the Holy Mountain in 1312, even if the monasteries continued to look to the emperor as supreme legal authority. Three notable patriarchs of the fourteenth century had spent time on the mountain, Niphon (1310-14), Kallistos (1350-53; 1355-63) and Philotheos Kokkinos (1353-54; 1364-76); so, too, had Isidore I Boucheiras (1347-50). Bitter, heavily documented disputes over religious discipline and hesychasm sometimes divided Athonite monks from the hierarchy in Constantinople, but in an era of spiritual exploration and the high expectations invested in a life of prayer, discord between driven holy men and the ecclesiastical and monastic establishments was more or less inevitable. In fact, the disputatious character of fourteenth-century monasticism made the notion of an overarching custodian of the fundamentals of doctrine and hierarchy all the more desirable to those vested with formal ecclesiastical or monastic authority. This combined with the predisposition of leading Athonites to venerate the 'holy emperor of the Romans' above all others, regarding him as the prime legal guarantor of their estates' tax-exemptions and other privileges.

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