Anastasius I, Emperor of the East
Anastasius was a reform-minded senior senator and
financial expert from Dyrracchium (now Durres, Albania)
whom the Empress Adriana, widow of
Emperor Zeno, selected as her husband in 491
despite his advanced age (he was 61).
had long been one of Anastasius's interests, and
as emperor he used his power to advance his opinions.
He was a strong supporter of the
Henoticon, and tried to reconcile Chalcedonian
and anti-Chalcedonian groups into a state church which
both sides rejected as heretical. In 496 he deposed
Patriarch Euphemius of Constantinople for opposing
the compromise stance, and in 511 deposed Patriarch
Macedonius for the same reason. The Chalcedonian Pope
of Rome St. Gelasius I
wrote a famous epistle to Anastasius criticising the
emperor's amateurish dabbling in theology and articulating
a doctrine of division of powers between
Church and State (with the Church's "burden" the
more serious of the two) which would have enormous
consequences in later Western history; Anastasius sent
a furious reply, but his influence in the West was minimal.
In 512, the Miaphysite version of the Trisagion prayer
(which refers all three "Holies" to the Son alone) became
a flash-point issue for religious tensions, and Chalcedonian
rebels nearly overthrew the government. In spite of all this,
the Miaphysites did not see Anastasius as one of their own,
and the emperor's policies merely contributed to the
ever-deepening rift. Anastasius died in 518, the same year
that the Miaphysite Council of Tyre solidified the doctrinal
position of the Syrian Jacobites. He was 88 years old.
--- Norman Hugh Redington
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