The East-West Separation

History of Hungary and Romania in the 13th to 14th centuries

What were the causes of separation for the European nations into two antagonistic blocks, East and West? While several reasons might appear on their own to provide reasonable grounds for this break, it seems that a major one can be inferred from a modern history text about Transylvania of the thirteenth and fourteenth century and about the main kingdoms seeking to claim it, dominated by Hungarians in the West and by Romanians in the East.

This Transylvanian subject is a hot topic even today for some of the local inhabitants and undoubtedly constitutes one of the reasons the book has been written, but this is not the point of this translation; that is to say that one should probably ignore these ethnic/political implications and try to focus instead on the larger picture and on the decisive role of the evolving doctrine of papacy (taken out of its proper, historical context around the turn of the first millennium) in this fundamental separation, bringing it down from the level of theological disputes to a state of enmity between the “right” Christians, “blessed” by the “holy father” to take various “corrective” measures against the “wrong” others.

Before starting, I also need to state that while attempting to provide an accurate translation, I have made minor changes to the original for clarity’s sake. The author is apparently not a Church expert, and this is the very reason I chose this article to present to English language readers—his work does not seem to have been motivated by Church polemics, the likes of which have circulated for centuries in Catholic and Orthodox circles, and therefore it could be regarded as very interesting evidence for some notable differences between what is cunningly preached today to the ignorant as basically, “very similar forms of Christianity,” and to caution the reader against other false phrases like, “the same old, flawed, Christianity, be it Catholic or Orthodox,” or, “don’t bother to look East as there is little difference between it and Catholicism.” The book might therefore serve to indicate some of the changes made by the Vatican leadership and illustrate the motives behind those departures from traditional Christianity.

There are, of course, other more fundamental breaks by papism with Christian Tradition, but the ones transpiring in this history book are also interesting and compliment the foundational ones.

* * *

From the hands of the schismatic Vlachs.” (Romanians and power in the kingdom of medieval Hungary)

The term “schismatic”, used in the Catholic world, conveyed from the beginning the notion of contempt, while that of “Vlach”, used by most foreigners, acquired this connotation only later, under historic circumstances. The whole phrase placed in quotes in the title, extracted from a list of Latin manuscripts from 1377 and to be mentioned in the text, suggest the seizure of some wealth (material, moral, spiritual, etc.) from the inheritance of the Orthodox Romanians. We consider that this type of seizure, looting, and snatching of goods, lands, estates, forests or villages, even faiths and dreams, has sealed the fate of Romanians for many centuries. All of these things will be explained in this work.

The book from which I have chosen these excepts to translate sets it goal to capture exactly this change, unfolding over the course of about two centuries [sec 13-14], after which the Romanian’s status increasingly deteriorated, ending finally as that of an excluded people, “endured” as living in the principality of Transylvania “as long as the princes and citizens might allow it” (according to legal texts of seventeenth century).

Chapter. 6: The Fourth Crusade (1203-1204), or, the Occident’s method of eradicating the schism.


Let’s see what happened in fact. On July 17, 1203, the Western crusaders (knights) were present in Constantinople (invited by a local political party), and starting with April 13, 1204, the Eastern world’s capital was found under the rule of the “Latins”. From that point on the term “Greeks” entered the public conscience, used by the Westerners for Byzantines and Orthodox in general, and that of “Latins”, used in Eastern Europe, for the Westerners. Both had a degrading and even contemptuous character at the time, when used by the opposing party...

The Byzantine Empire never fully recovered after this blow, even if the “Latin exploit” ended in 1261.

Instead, the Western conquest led to what historians call Greek medieval nationalism. During the “Latin” rule, national resistance against the conquerors began, especially in Epirus. Finally, the “Latin” conquest of Constantinople provided Rome with an ideal framework for achieving a capital objective—the union of the two Christian Churches under her rule. The conquest of Constantinople and of some large parts of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire—that is, of the core of Eastern Christendom—by the Western Christian knights, called crusaders, caused this action of 1203-1204 to be called the “diverted crusade”. The crusader’s effort was no longer directed, as before, against the “heathen” of the Holy Land, but toward other Christians. This initial “diversion” then led to other “diversions” which flourished in large areas of Southeastern, Central, and Eastern Europe.

Section 6.1. The Holy See’s program of unifying the Churches.

Pope Innocent III, led by the idea of restoring pre-Schism unity, came up with a plan of governing both Church and society. The Sovereign Pontiff considered himself now the vicar of Christ, i.e. Vicarius Christi (and not only of Peter, i.e. Vicarius Petri), and the head of the Universal Church (Universalis Ecclesia), by which he understood the whole body... including Church and Christians, priesthood and royalty. The authority of the other bishops was considered to be only “delegated” by the Pope or associated with the supreme authority of the Sovereign Pontiff. The Pope was the plenipotentiary of the spiritual realm (spiritualium plenitudo) and the temporal/worldly domain (temporalium latitudo), or, in other words, he had complete power (plenitudo potestatis). The spiritual powers, of divine origin, were regarded as superior to the lay powers, which related to worldly matters. Therefore, priesthood was superior to royalty.

This was the formula of the new pontifical theocracy, updated and enlarged by Innocent III. It meant not only the denial of the Eastern view, but also the promotion of a large effort to reintegrate the Byzantine Church into the restored unity (in 1204) of the whole Christian world. In other words, it negated the Eastern Church’s view, which rendered unto the Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s, separating religious power from the worldly and prescribing (in some cases) the submission of the hierarch to the monarch…

Additionally, this Church of the East was to be ruled by Rome.

Section 6.2 : The perception of the 1204 event by Byzantine society.

The Fourth Crusade, the “diverted crusade”, was seen by some historians as an expression of Venice’s power politics, eager to control unchallenged the Eastern trade. In a wider view, this assault on the Byzantine world has been considered the clearest exhibition of the West’s political and military superiority over declining Byzantium. The 1204 moment opened the era of the most powerful action by the “Latin” world in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, where Orthodoxy predominated. It is the beginning of a Catholic “mission” in the East, perceived in the area as an act of pressure and of conversion, later described as proselytism, as this action did not only affect the pagans, but also the schismatics. A clash of the two Christian worlds, Eastern and Western, occurred in this way, of which even the lower social strata became aware.

For many Eastern historians the true schism, with its deep implications, took place not in 1054, but in 1204 and the following years. Consequently, the Holy See’s theoretical concept (partially put into practice) of the creation in 1204 of a convenient framework for unifying the two Churches under Rome could not be realized. The act of 1204, perceived by Byzantines as one-sided, introduced a deep split between what would later be called the Catholic West and Orthodox East. The split was caused not so much by the Christians’ attack on Constantinople (in other cases, other Christians also waged war against the city of Constantine the Great), but by the institution of a “crusade” against one of the traditional centers of the Christian world, part of the Pentarchy. The old concept of equal authority among the five major patriarchal sees (Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch) was profoundly wounded and contested. Of course, just like the siege of Zara (today Zadar, in Croatia, another Christian city captured by the same crusaders in 1202), the Western knights’ invasion of Constantinople was considered by the West to be a passing event (related to the replacement on the Byzantine throne of the legitimate ruler, Isaac Angelos II) before the liberation of the Holy Land. Instead, the event became permanent and led to the disintegration of the Byzantine Empire. Therefore, Greek and Eastern historiography’s reproaches are aimed not so much at the invasion of the “Latins” into the city of Constantine the Great as to imposing a Western rule, both laic and ecclesiastical, in Byzantium.

Section 6.3: The politics of Innocent III (and of his successors): the placement of the Eastern Church under the Church of Rome.

Pope Innocent III’s politics toward the Byzantine Church (and the East in general) were fashioned step-by-step, while the events were unfolding at the beginning of thirteenth century. Initially, the crusaders, almost rebels (...), were blamed and excommunicated because they violated the orders of the Sovereign Pontiff, being quite aware of it. It was revolting to him who considered himself, and effectively was in many ways, the head of the Universal Church, to observe the violent attack of the Western Christians against Eastern Christians, against their center and symbol, Constantinople. In other words, the pope realizes the fact that some Christians, coming somehow in his name, violently conquered other Christians, inducing a deep wound in the body of the Universal Church. On the other hand, the new Venetian Patriarch had been enthroned in Constantinople without the pope’s accord, as an instrument of Venetian domination. Faced with this grave situation, the same crusaders repented and declared that they were promoting the union of the two Christian Churches. Consequently, Pope Innocent III found himself bound to accept the conquest of Byzantium as a fact and to seek the most proper interpretation or motivation. What was done was done, and could not be mended. It was, after all, a good opportunity to rule all the matters of Eastern Church from the West—that is from Rome, by the pope—and to basically take supreme power over all Christians in his hands. It was clear—to the eyes of the “Holy Father” and of the Western political leaders—that the “Latin” authority in Constantinople was rendering the schism pointless, both in defeated Byzantium and in the whole Eastern world. The way to suppress the schism—according to the same power factors—seemed to be the “Latinization”, by force if necessary, of the Eastern Church and society. From the 1204 event on, the theoretical polemics between Rome and Byzantium on the Pentarchy and the hierarchy of the five patriarchal sees of the Church are replaced with the ideology of the “Union”, that is of the placement of the Eastern Church under the Church of Rome, one way or another.

Section 6.4 : Why did the schism have to be eradicated (in the view of Innocent III)?

The “Holy Father” knew very well that the use of military force and coercion against a Christian Church and society (as old as the Roman Church and world) was not acceptable by the Church canons and by Christian morality. The Eastern Church, although viewed from the West as schismatic, was an authentic Christian Church, and the politics of force led against her was without precedent.

Hence the pope’s insistent search for a well-justified motivation that he could offer to the public, especially to his critics, for the transfer of Byzantium from Christian hands into other Christian hands. The general idea of Rome and of the West, taking shape after the pope’s first view on the crusaders changed, was that the violent conquest of Byzantium was the natural result of the “sin of schism”. This “sin” would have stripped the Byzantine Church and state of its legitimacy, which would have naturally determined the transfer of the empire from the Greeks to the Latins, according to the will of God.

Only, the “sin of schism”—the term “schism” meaning only a break, a fracture, and not deviation from the right faith—did not justify by itself such a punishment for the Greeks. Knowing this, the fine theologian, ideologist and diplomat Innocent III took the argument further: Because the Greeks (Easterners) reject the essential dogma of the procession of the Holy Spirit also from the Son (Filioque), they cease to be merely “schismatics” (or broken from Rome); the departure from the dogma implied the progression of the “Greeks’ error” from schism to heresy. Naturally, heresy is much more serious and implies or attracts heavier punishments. This interpretation of the schism can be seen in a letter written by Pope Innocent III on October 7, 1207 to the clergy and laity of Western Russia. The Russians were strongly invited to accept the supremacy of Rome on the principle of Church unity. In order to force their decision, the pope brings up the fate of the Greeks who, because of their “rebellion” and “disobedience” toward Rome, were given over to “pillage and plunder” (“dati fuerint in direptionem et praedam”). But, according to canons, “given over to plunder”, or seizure of property was one of the common punishments for heretics (together with prison and death). Of course, these judgments remained in the theoretical realm around the “Holy See”. But the Western lay authorities, as noticed after the Fourth Crusade, had the tendency for a while to mix schism and heresy and to treat them alike, to apply the same regime. This way, the owners of “schismatic” land (and other property) could be “legally” considered and declared iniusti possessores (unrightful owners) and be subjected to dispossession, even by force if necessary (through crusade, and through the secular arm—that is, through the armies of the laic states).

This ideology was concieved post factum, in order to justify the violent transfer of goods from the rightful owners, the Greeks, into the hands of the Latin conquerors in 1204 and in the following years, from Constantinople and from Byzantium in general. In some circumstances, however, this ideology was also applied to the Eastern World outside Byzantium, especially in the thirteenth to fourteenth centuries, with profound consequences leading to an increasing gulf between the two parts of the continent.

Section 6.5: “Members of the Roman Church must follow her customs”: Paths to follow and obstacles in subduing the East.


In other words, the members of the Roman Church, among whom Easterners were also now potentially counted, had to follow the same rite and the same liturgy.


Section 6.6 : The religious politics in the Eastern territories ruled by the Latin crusaders.

A new ecclesiastic hierarchy was gradually imposed in these areas subordinated to Rome. The Greek hierarchs who accepted the pope’s authority and made a vow to this end were retained, while the others were replaced. Later, the Fourth Council of Lateran in 1215 established that the Latin bishops of the East were to appoint only Latin priests in those Churches still following the Greek rite. In some places, even the ecclesiastical organization was altered (the territory of some dioceses, etc). The Latin clerics took over lands of the Eastern Church, including the large treasures of the Greek monasteries. The laic Latin leaders also desired these goods, and this stimulated competition between clergy and laity. Abuses also occurred, leading to a certain resistance from the Greek side. A series of churches were closed, and some priests and monks were punished. The main punishments were the seizure of goods, jailing and sometimes even execution—that is, precisely the punishments aimed at heretics. As another mark of the new Latin authority, the whole population was subjected to the ecclesiastical tithe (that is, the tenth part of all goods given as an offering to the Church— something nonexistent in the Byzantine world), this causing new opposition, which in turn induced more confiscations and capital punishments. In 1213, Emperor Henric became more tolerant with the local population as a result of the Greek aristocracy’s petitions for religious freedom.

Section 6.8: Rome’s politics toward the Church and Eastern population in the Hungarian Kingdom.

Two factors contributed to the birth of the Hungarian Kingdom—the “Holy See” on the religious plane, and the Roman-German Empire on the secular plane. Moreover, Rome considered Hungary to be included in “St. Peter’s Patrimony”, as a pontifical “member” at its disposition. In other words, Hungary was in the first line of defense, the consolidation and expansion of the papal possessions and of the Western faith toward the Southeast. After the birth of the Eastern Latin Empire, Hungary’s strategic importance grew even more. Testimony to the Hungarian Kingdom’s importance to the “Holy See” for attaining religious unity after the takeover of Constantinople by the Latins is a letter dated Nov 14, 1204, by Innocent III to the Hungarian King, with the imposition to subordinate to Rome the non-Catholic nations and populations (“all those disobedient to the Roman Church in your country”).

The Papacy viewed its political success in the East through the connection of the Southern front in the Balkans (represented by the Latin Empire) with the Northern one (represented by Hungary). The “Holy See’s” politics toward the Eastern Christians from Hungary and its neighbors was supported by important forces, such as the Arpadian royalty, the local Church and monastic and military orders. Many times Rome would only conceive the general line regarding the schismatics’ treatment and the local Hungarian forces would use these guidelines for accomplishing its own goals. The bringing of military monastic orders such as the Teutons and the Ioannites to Hungary and to some territories under its control was part of Rome’s general strategy of trapping the “schismatic” world into a network of factors which would ascertain the success of annihilating the schism.

Around the year 1200 there lived in Hungary many followers of the Byzantine Rite (Ruthenians, Romanians, Serbians, Bulgarians, Hungarians, etc.), especially in the south and southeastern parts of the kingdom. Some historians even speak about an Eastern Christian majority, at least in those areas... During the first two centuries of the Hungarian Kingdom’s existence, the Western and Eastern Churches went along rather peacefully, and the Byzantine Rite inhabitants were free to own their churches, have their own dioceses, and, according to some sources, even a metropolitan see. One should not forget that some Hungarian leaders received Baptism from Byzantium, were in close relationships with the Constantinopolitan Emperors, and even had Byzantine Queens. Moreover, it is estimated that until the Mongolian invasion (1241) there were about 600 recorded Eastern Monasteries in Hungary, compared with the 170-180 Western order ones (of which only 11 have the founding papers preserved to this day, while 60-70 cannot be attributed to a certain order).

Section 6.9: Conclusions.

The apogee of the power politics promoted by a segment of the Western world toward Byzantium and the Eastern Church occurred immediately after the Fourth Crusade and under Innocent III; i.e. between 1204 and 1216.

However, the measures taken for “unity” under the Roman rule or punishment of those who “persisted in schism or heresy” unfolded over decades, at least during the time of the Eastern Latin Empire (1204-1261). These politics were different from region to region and were adapted to the local situation and to the forces available to the “Holy See” in various places. While in Latin-conquered Byzantium, and in the regions with Eastern populations ruled by Catholic powers, force could be used (looting, confiscation of goods, detention or even execution)—treating schism as a heresy, in the Orthodox states from the Byzantine Commonwealth a certain diplomacy was employed (gifts, messages, advice, promises, threats, etc). In these former cases, the targets were mostly the leaders, the crowned heads, the higher clergy, while in the territories directly controlled by Latins the ones affected were communities, lesser leaders, small owners, parishes, and monasteries.

In the end, the measures initiated by Rome, but mostly by her auxiliaries after 1204, created even more tension in the atmosphere between the West and the East. The violent passing of Byzantium into Latin hands, the rivalry between the Western conquerors, the pressures toward imposing the authority of the Roman Church, the lack of respect for the Eastern values, the acts of compulsion, etc. weakened the Eastern civilization as a whole, clearing the path for the great Tartar-Mongolian invasion. The crusade diversion of 1204, coupled with the force politics of the Marine Italian Republics (especially Venice), weakened Byzantium more than any other external factor and made it more vulnerable to the destructive invasion of the Ottomans. On the other hand, the Easterners’ trust in the union proposals made after 1204 by the Latins greatly diminished, the idea of union being now always associated with force and violence. The Byzantine responses to calls for unity became purely formal and were dictated more by secular political factors, who were insincerely promising unity only to gain the saving military aid of the West. This aid never came, except intermittently, and inadequately at that. As a consequence, the Fourth Crusade and the measures that followed were perceived by the East as acts of Western treachery and of finalizing the great Schism of 1054. Through the Latin assault on Constantinople, brought on in part by some Byzantines, the schism came into effect, and became perceptible even to the common population. With this, consciousness of the difference and separation between the two entities was imposed on Christian Europe forever...


Chapter. 17: The image of the Romanian Countries in the Hungarian conscience and its impact on the status of Transylvanian Romanians.

Section 17.1: “Our country beyond the mountains”: The Hungarian political and military plan regarding the Romanian Countries.


From the fourteenth century onward, the name of Vlachia (meaning the “Romanian Country”) symbolizes the existence of the first centralized, autonomous Romanian state, escaped from under the Hungarian sphere of direct Hungarian control—something the official Hungarian powers could not accept. In the Hungarian political view, especially in the royal circles, the Transcarpathian Romanian Countries had to follow those on the other side of the mountains in their plans of conquest and assimilation into the Hungarian Kingdom.


Ch. 19 Romanians versus the Western Church and the Western Church versus the Romanians.


Sibiu Orthodox Cathedral. Transylvania, Romania Sibiu Orthodox Cathedral. Transylvania, Romania
Any faith has, to a certain degree, the tendency to attract new members, i.e. a proselyte component. The old Roman world and the Medieval world were, most of the time, tolerant enough in this respect, at the local community level. In the Middle Ages, just as the land customs of each community were respected, from each “nation’s” language to legal or judiciary principles, so it was with faith. The end of the European Middle Ages, however, concomitant with the more rigorous organization of the [Roman] Church, along with the strengthening of the Romano-German Empire, and most of all with the imposition of the plenitudo potestatis principle, brought along a certain religious exclusivism, which then degenerated into serious forms of discrimination.

Section 19.1: “In a land without law and order”: the Western Church’s crisis in Hungary at the end of thirteenth century.


The 1279 Local Council of Buda... The Buda decisions’ preamble shows the goal of the papal legation, that is, the re-elevation, support and shield of the Catholic faith, the straightening of life, morals and deeds of the clergy and laity. The 1279 Hungarian council’s papers (identical to those of the 1282 Polish council) begin by reaffirming the supremacy of the Church of Rome and the idea that Hungary must be led by Rome, the kings and princes having to “bow before the prelates.”


The last chapters of the 1279 council’s decisions seem focused on the Jews living on the territory of Phillipe of Fermo’s legation, but it is clear that, in fact, they also had in view the “Saracens” (islamic) and the “schismatics” (Byzantines). Phillipe of Fermo begins with the protection the Roman Church must grant to the Jews; but, because of the danger of contamination with “Judaic heresies” and of the influence coming from Judaism (says the legate), he decrees that in public the Jews wear on their chest a red, circular patch of cloth. The interdiction for the Jews, Saracens and schismatics to benefit from the sources of revenue of the “Christians”, usually obtained through concession, were as follows.

All these interdictions have precedents in the thirteenth century and they prescribe serious sanctions, not so much for the Jews as for the “Christians”. A separate chapter deals with the “schismatic priests” from Hungary and Poland who were subjected to a series of interdictions. For example, they were no longer allowed to serve in churches (?!), nor to build new places of worship, unless approved by the local bishop (i.e., the Latin bishop); they cannot give Holy Communion to the Catholics, but only to the “schismatics”; the Catholics are strictly prohibited to attend the “schismatic” services and to receive Holy Communion from the “schismatic” priests; “Christians” (Catholics) had to avoid completely the temptation of the “schismatics”, and if they did not abide by the council’s decisions, they would be given to the “secular arm” (i.e. they were to be set straight by military force). In the last part of the document, entitled, “On Man’s Evil”, the legate shows his sadness, disappointment and weakness against the tragic realities found in Hungary, anticipates the difficulties in applying those decisions, and asks for the dissemination of the papers so that they would become well known, and for the exemplary punishment of those who disobeyed.


The “Christians” seem weak in their faith, often allowing themselves to be confounded, overwhelmed, attracted by the “false Christians”. Despite some periphrastic, benevolent phrases, the Eastern Christians are placed on almost the same level with the Jews and the Muslims and classified as the enemies of the Western Faith. The term “Christians” is applied exclusively to the Catholics, while the Eastern Christians are systematically called “schismatics” and quite often placed among non-Christians. One should not look for canonical subtleties from the legate Phillipe of Fermo in his use of the term “schismatic”, as was unconvincingly attempted, because the meaning was plain, at least from Pope Innocent III onward, to every Western author: the “schismatics” were all the members of the Eastern Churches; that is, those who would not accept the supreme authority over the “Universal Church”, no matter what region they belonged to. As long as the Latin Eastern Empire lasted (1204- 1261), and thus as long as the Latin Patriarchate of Constantinople existed, the Byzantines who accepted the new reality and who were in formal submission to Rome were no longer called “schismatics”. “Schismatics” were only the “stubborn” ones, who refused the authority of the Latin prelates and of Rome, and who would not accept the Filioque. These deserved being “given over to looting and plunder”; that is, they were classified as heretics.

After 1261, however, the Latin Patriarchate had no real jurisdiction anymore, and in practice, despite artificial attempts by some Roman canonists, all the Easterners became “schismatics”. Pope Innocent IV’s resolutions acknowledging the schismatic communities as a legal minority among the unique “Christian people” remained most often dead letters on the one hand, while on the other hand, in some regions they augmented the discrimination and demonization of the Easterners.


For “Christians” there was hope for salvation, even if Hungary was on the brink of destruction. The “schismatics”, however, just like their priests (of course, those within his jurisdiction, the prelate being unable to refer to the others) were deprived of any rights: the priests can no longer officiate in churches (then where can they officiate?), they are forbidden to build new churches (of any kind—not of wood, nor stone, nor brick), cannot receive the Catholics, cannot administer to them the Holy Communion, cannot receive any functions by concession from the “Christians”. The idea that some things were allowed with the consent of the Eastern bishop was only a verbal palliative or a euphemism, almost impossible to put into practice, for at least two reasons:

1) The Eastern priests and laity were, from their point of view, in no way subordinated to the Latin hierarchy and they were not even allowed to accept such a subordination, canonically speaking.

2) The Latin bishops could not give permission for construction of Eastern churches while the faith of the “Greeks” was officially considered the greatest danger for the souls of the “Christians”.


Section 19.2: “More than a third of the country adhered to the ‘holy custom’”; or the proportion of Catholics in Hungary.

Such a dark, sometimes catastrophic image in a country considered Catholic raises, quite rightfully, questions. And the questions are related to demographics as well, with all its components. About how many “Latins”, how many “schismatics” and how many non-Christians were there really in Hungary in around 1270-1300?1


Section 19.3 “The wretched and fallen state of the said country of Hungary”: The crisis at the beginning of the fourteenth century.


Confessionally speaking, that century was imbued by the idea of combating the “schismatics” in various ways, including “religious union”, meaning the acceptance by the Easterners of the conditions imposed by the Roman curia and then by the one from Avignon.


The precise reason for excommunicating the king was his daughter’s imminent marriage with a “schismatic”, more precisely, with the son of the Serbian king. Starting from this, but also from many other occurrences, cardinal Gentile forbade any Catholic from Hungary to give his daughter, grand-daughter or any other blood-relative in marriage to any “heretical Patar, Gazar, schismatic, or any other enemy of the Christian faith,” and especially with Ruthenians, Bulgarians, Serbians and Lithuanians, “who persist in heresy”. The document in question, written at Bratislava or Pojon (in latin “Posonium”, then in Hungary) on Christmas day of 1309, aims at efficiently defending “the faith”. For, says he, if the “sons of obedience” (Catholics) would mix with the “sons of disobedience” (Orthodox), then “the purity of the faith would be damaged”. Therefore, marriages with heretics are declared unlawful and considered as acts “which separate and stain the Christian religion and come to the aid of heretic defilement,” and the one who would encourage and approve such a marriage, as well as the woman given to the non-Catholic, would be “stricken by the sword of damnation and deprived of a church burial.” If within one month they would not return to “the bosom of Orthodox Faith” (i.e. Catholic) then they would be treated as supporters of heresy and enemies of the faith itself, according to church and laic laws”. In these texts, the “heretics” (those who have deviated from the right faith), “pagans” and “schismatics” (Eastern Christians) are mixed together... What is of special relevance here is that the “schismatics”, those married to “schismatics” or those who encouraged such unions were numbered with the “heretics”, excommunicated, and, if they persisted, stricken by the “ecclesiastical” and “secular” arms. But this happened immediately after the crusade as well, as we have seen, which shows an invariant in the papal politics over a whole century.

As a result of these decisions, King Ladislau Khan, who gave his daughter in marriage to an Orthodox, is declared a “supporter of the heretics” and “enemy of the faith”, and is punished accordingly, being excommunicated. Moreover, the vassals, [meaning all types of servants here] ... were released from all ties and fealty owed to him, and those who would help him, give him advice or support him were also excommunicated and deprived of church burial. Thus, marriages with the Eastern Christians were considered heretical acts, and all those involved in their settlement were punished as heretics. This severity was justified by the legate Gentile through his ardent desire “to increase the purity of the Catholic faith” everywhere, but especially in Hungary, where “this faith has strayed much”, and he desired to “remove by the struggle of our care the stain of heretical defilement.” The Hungarian lands were very much defiled by heresy, says the legate. “The world was poisoned by those caught in this defilement and by their tempting teaching,” and “the flock of the faithful was afflicted by a heavier plague because of the sick sheep.” From this picture one can see that the situation was more serious than the “danger” of marriages with “schismatics” and that even the Latin Confession was overwhelmed by the Byzantine Faith and other non-Catholic faiths. On this occasion, one might have proceeded as before, to “giving over to looting and plunder” of some of the “schismatics” from Transylvania, and Hungary; i.e. to taking over their real property by the “Christians”, which was for the rulers perfectly moral and legal. Anyway, in those years, the documents show several Romanian villages under the rule of nobles, of the “guests”, of the “Catholic Church”. Illustrative in this respect is the document by King Carol Robert from 1313, through which he confirmed and transcribed a privileged letter by Andrew III from 1293, bestowing sixty Romanian households to higher offices of Alba Iulia.

Section 19.4: Between death and conversion: absolution of sins for the old “Christians” and heavy tithes for the newly converted.

It is clear that such acts against the “schismatics” were considered welcome and encouraged, and all those among the “Christians” from Hungary who were to die in the wars with the “schismatics” and the Tartars were forgiven their sins (by pope Clement the 5th, on Feb 1st 1314): “To you and to the other faithful of the Roman Church from the area of the Hungarian kingdom, who suffer from the schismatics, Tartars, pagans and other peoples who have mixed with unbelievers..., in order to inspire you toward the defense of the Catholic faith..., we forgive your sins if you should die in the wars within Hungary and in the neighboring lands mentioned... against schismatics, Tartars, pagans and other lawless, unfaithful peoples.” In other words, the Eastern Christians were not only to be stripped of their possessions without this being considered a fault, but were even good to kill, and those of the “Christians” who distinguished themselves in this violent homicidal action, if they were to die, would be absolved of sins—and therefore destined for Heaven. In other words, the “schismatics” were a good opportunity for enrichment, and their murder was a special occasion for forgiveness of the “Christians” sins. It’s obvious that “the Christian Church” had from the beginning a hostile attitude toward “pagans”, that is non-Christians, increased gradually by the same attitude against “heretics”, but the “anti-schismatic” component was accentuated more recently, not so much after 1054 but rather after 1204. The innovation was not enmity directed against the “Greeks”, but the placement among the ranks of “heretics” or even “pagans” of those who had only recently, in Rome’s vision, committed no more than a formal “error”... In other words, the death of Christians in the war against other Christians became a unique virtue, praised and appreciated. We don’t have any innovation here in 1314, and unfortunately not the last absolution of sins for Christians sent to war against other Christians.2


From other sources one understands that, especially inside the kingdom of Hungary, the war against “schismatics” could not be the only solution, and that other means existed to manage the situation. In fact, the usual method recommended by the Western Church to be used before violence was the peaceful attraction of the “Greeks/schismatics” toward Catholicism. In this spirit we see the action of the Dominican and Franciscan orders, and the Hungarian Church’s effort, coordinated with that of the royalty—although the results did not seem satisfying and the difficulties were great. The peaceful methods did not always prove appropriate. Thus, around 1328, king Carol Robert was asking the papal curia from Avignon not to ask for a too large a tithe from the Cumans, Romanians and Slavs from Hungary converted to Catholicism, because this was endangering the whole conversion campaign.

Consequently, Pope John XXII on May 8 1328 commanded all the Hungarian prelates to relax their material zeal in order to salvage the spiritual goal; the pope knew from the king that these Romanians, Cumans and Slavs, “because they had not previously paid these tithes, say now that the reason they were counseled to convert to the Catholic faith was so that they would give their goods to the clergy,” and that, “many who would otherwise happily convert to this faith are holding back because of this issue.”3


Another mention of the tithe taken from the Romanians is made by pope Gregory IX in 1377. The Avignon Pontiff approved the request of the noble lady Caterina, the widow of Simion, the owner of the Medies fortress (from the Satmarene parts)—snatched at some point in around 1200 “from the hands of the schismatic Romanians”, converted now to Catholicism ...

1 That there was such effort put into converting everyone in the country to Catholicism , and that the amount is stated at being around a third of the population, points to a situation where the minority was imposing their rules on the majority.

2 Here in the text follow other papal guidelines of the same kind.

3 There were many other such measures described in this chapter that were not included in this translation due to their sheer volume.

Ioan-Aurel Pop
Translation from Romanian by Silviu Podiaru


Silviu12/12/2015 9:12 pm
@ John:
This is exactly the remarkable feature of our unique faith, that it DOES NOT
allow, nor call it "holy", any form of compulsion, aggression or even worse
torture and death, inflicted on "others" as many other faiths find it okay,
if not commendable to do. As an example, no matter how the current popes wrap
it in crafty words of "love" and such, they (the last three) are in the course
of praising with "sanctity" one of the worst possible examples in history,
that of famous "Bishop" Stepinac: .
See especially chapter 6 "CHRIST AND THE USTASHI MARCH TOGETHER". This is not
a unique example in papism, such scandalous examples and directives from the
highest level can be found all over in its history. In Orthodoxy, we simply
do not have any of the kind.

John11/12/2015 10:25 am
This history is very cynical.

You should be as cynical to your own affairs before doing so towards others.
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