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Charlemagne and the Franks, Pope Leo III and the filioque.

The phrase "and the son" (filioque in Latin) was first used in Toledo, Spain in 587 with the purpose of countering the Arian Christian faith of the Visigothic nobility of Spain. The practice spread then to France, a stronghold of Arianism where it was repudiated at the Gentilly Council in 767. Emperor Charlemagne called for a council at Aix-la-Chapelle in 809 at which Pope Leo III forbade the use of the filioque clause and ordered that the Nicene creed be engraved on silver tablets so that his conclusion may
not be overturned in the future.

The Germanic tribes (the Franks) who became known as "Latin Christianity," conquered romaine mire along with the Arab Muslims and the Turkish Muslims, though at various stages. The  ecclesiastical administration of the Roman Empire disappeared in stages from West Europe, but has survived up to modern times in the "East Roman Empire" the Orthodox Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. The reason for this is that the Germanic - Frankish conquerors of the West Romans (who became known as the "Roman Catholic Church.") used the Church to suppress the Roman nation, whereas under Islam the East Roman nation, the Orthodox Church, survived by means of the Orthodox Church. In each instance of conquest, the bishops became the pethnarchs of the conquered Romans and administered Roman law on behalf of the rulers. As long as the bishops were Roman, the unity of the Roman Church was preserved, in spite of theological conflicts.

The Franks applied their policy of destroying the unity between the Romans under their rule and the "East Romans," the Orthodox, under the rule of Constantinople. They played one Roman party against the other, took neither side, and finally condemned both the iconoclasts and the Seventh Ecumenical Synod (786/7) at their own Council of Frankfurt in 794, In the time of Pippin of Herestal (687-715) and Charles Martel (715-741), many of the Franks who replaced Roman bishops were military leaders who, according to Saint Boniface, "shed the blood of Christians like that of the pagans."

An unsuccessful attempt was made on the life of (the Roman) Pope Leo III (795-816), the successor of Hadrian. Pope Leo was then accused of immoral conduct. Charlemagne took a personal and active interest in the investigations which caused Leo to be brought to him in Paderborn. Leo was sent back to Rome, followed by Charlemagne, who continued the investigations. The Frankish king required finally that Leo swear his innocence on the Bible, which he did on December 23, (800). Two days later Leo crowned Charlemagne "Emperor of the Romans." Charlemagne had arranged to get the title "Emperor" in exchange for Leo’s exoneration.

Charlemagne caused the filioque (the new line in the Creed that said that the Holy Spirit, "proceeds from the Father and the Son," instead of the original which read, "proceeds from the Father, to be added to the Frankish Creed, without consulting the pope. When the controversy over this addition broke out in Jerusalem, Charlemagne convoked the Council of Aachen (809) and decreed that this addition was a dogma necessary for salvation. With this fait accomplit under his belt, he tried to pressure Pope Leo III into accepting it.

Pope Leo rejected the filioque not only as an addition to the Creed, but also as doctrine, claiming that the Fathers left it out of the Creed neither out of ignorance, nor out of negligence, nor out of oversight, but on purpose and by divine inspiration. What Leo said to the Franks but in diplomatic terms, was that the addition of the filioque to the Creed is a heresy.

The so-called split between East and West was, in reality, the importation into Old Rome of the schism provoked by Charlemagne and carried there by the Franks and Germans who took over the papacy. Charlemagne frequently interfered in the papal domain, but Leo managed to keep control over doctrinal matters—for example, to avoid giving offense to the Eastern church, he firmly resisted imperial pressure to insert the filioque in the Nicene Creed. With money donated by Charlemagne, Leo built and decorated many churches in Rome. After the death of Charlemagne in 814, Leo was able to act more independently.

To the credit of the fathers of the early great council, and veneration, more than one Pope refused to accept the clause fililoque, with Pope Leo III going so far as to engrave the true Creed of the Holy Apostles onto silver plates and mount them on St. Peter’s in Rome. Although the legates of Pope John VIII rejected this innovation at the Council of Constantinople in 879-880, he failed to extirpate it from the whole of the West. In 903 Pope Christopher reintroduced it, which produced a temporary schism with the West. And in 1006 Pope Sergius IV again reintroduced it, which led the Great Church of Constantinople to remove his name from the diptychs.

In Rome, the filioque clause first appeared in 1014 in the coronation liturgy of Emperor Henry II by Pope Benedict VIII and was officially added to the Latin creed in 1274 by the Second Council of Lyons, which effected a short-lived reunion between East and West.


Other Links

History of The Catholic Church What is the Orthodox Church
Syriac Orthodox Church
Western Rite Orthodox
Catholic Church and Rites
The Great Schism
St. Photios the Great
Pope Leo III and the Filioque
Church Terminology
The Name Orthodox
The Nicene Creed
Orthodoxy & Roman Catholism
Orthodoxy & Roman Dialogue
Orthodox Teaching
Orthodox Doctrine
Orthodox Prayers
Principle of Orthodox Faith
Four Marks of the Church

Fasting in the Orthodox Church
Holy Communion
Jesus Prayer
Sign of the Cross
Rules of Pius Life
The Holy Trinity
Meaning of Christ's Cross
Why do we confess?
Preparation for Confession
History of Rosary
The Blessed Virgin Mary
How to Pray the Rosary

Common Declaration by Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Bartholomew I

Syriac-Greek Antiochian Orthodox Catholic Church in Africa