faced attacks from Gregory Akindynos, who had before remained neutral and had even disapproved of Barlaam's attacks on the hesychasts, and later also from the Constantinopolitan intellectual Nikephoros Gregoras.116 However, Palamas and his followers overcame this opposition, too, and in the end achieved universal recognition for their doctrine.
Why were Palamas and his associates so successful? From contemporary accounts of their activities it is clear that they formed a close-knit group with a common agenda.117 Moreover, several of them were former aristocrats with connections to the Constantinopolitan elite.118 However, the different fate of Theodore of Blakhernai suggests a more fundamental change in the role of monks within Byzantine church and society. During the eleventh and twelfth centuries the deacons of St Sophia had staffed most major bishoprics and had monopolised the theological discourse whereas the monks were tightly controlled and largely marginalised.119 However, this system did not survive the collapse of the empire in 1204 and from the later thirteenth century onwards we find monks not only in prominent positions in the church hierarchy but also at the forefront in the fight against a union with the Latins.120 This helps to explain how the monks of Mount Athos could take the unprecedented step of issuing a doctrinal statement and of excommunicating adversaries even before the Constantinopolitan synod had taken up these matters, and how during the next decade they succeeded in prevailing over all opposition by clerics and laymen. Significantly, Gregory Palamas became archbishop of Thessalonike and his two allies Isidore Boukheiras and Philotheos Kokkinos (as well as Kallistos, a disciple of Gregory of Sinai) became patriarchs of Constantinople.
The success of the hesychastic method in the late Byzantine period is truly astonishing. Its proponents were able to subvert, appropriate or suppress well-established alternative models of spiritual life and to present themselves as the only true representatives of orthodox monasticism. However, this success resulted in a narrowing of the rich Byzantine spiritual tradition: Palamas's victory over Barlaam was ultimately also a rejection of Maximos the
116 See Hero, Letters of Akindynos, x-xxxiii, and H.-V Beyer, 'Nikephoros Gregoras als Theologe und sein erstes Auftreten gegen die Hesychasten', Jahrbuch der österreichischen Byzantinistik 20 (1971), 171-88.
117 Cf.Meyendorff, Introduction a l'etude, 65-153.
118 Apart from Palamas one can mention Ioseph Kalothetos and David Disypatos. See Tsames, KaÁodsTov cruyypá¡j¡jaTa, 21-34, and M. Candal, 'Origen ideológico del palamismo en un documento de David Disipato', OCP15 (1949), 85-125.
119 P. Magdalino, The empire of Manuel Komnenos, 1143-1180 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 318-19.
120 D. M. Nicol, Church and society in the last centuries of Byzantium, 1261-1453 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979).
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