Written by Vladimir Moss



     St. Constantine, the first Christian emperor, came to power at a time when the superiority of the hierarchical, monarchical principle was undisputed in the ancient world. And under him it remained unchanged – Constantine was no democrat, and by abolishing the tetrarchy he reasserted one-man-rule. The pagan distinction between true autocracy and tyranny also remained, although subtly modified. The real change was in the idea that the State and its prosperity were no longer the highest values. For above the State was the Church, and the State existed in order to serve the Church, not vice-versa.

     The hierarchical principle remained unchanged because it was fully in accordance with Christian teaching. For the Apostles did not only preach obedience to the emperor: they extended the hierarchical principle to every level of society. Thus "be subject for the Lord's sake," says St. Peter, "to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and praise those who do right..." (I Peter 2.13). This included even the institution of slavery: “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentled, but also to the forward” (I Peter 2.18). Again St. Paul says: “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and His doctrine be not blasphemed. And those who have believing masters must not despise them because they are brethren, but rather do them service” (I Timothy 6.1-2).

     Following the Holy Apostles, the Holy Fathers asserted that the hierarchical principle of one-man rule is natural, God-given and superior to any other principle of government. In developing this thought, they adopted the originally pagan idea that the earthly king is the image of the Heavenly King, purifying it of the tendency, so natural to pagan thought, to identify the earthly and the Heavenly, the image and its archetype. Earthly kings could be images of the Heavenly King, and were to be venerated as such; but they were not god-kings, not objects of worship. Thus Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea wrote of St. Constantine: "The kingdom with which he is invested is an image of the heavenly one. He looks up to see the archetypal pattern and guides those whom he rules below in accordance with that pattern.” “The ruler of the whole world is the second Person of the All-Holy Trinity – the Word of God, Who is in everything visible and invisible. From this all-embracing Reason the Emperor is rational, from this Wisdom he is wise, from participation in this Divinity he is good, from communion with this Righteousness he is righteous, in accordance with the idea of this Moderation he is moderate, from the reception of this highest Power he is courageous. In all justice one must call a true Emperor him who has formed his soul with royal virtues, according to the image of the Highest Kingdom”.[1] 

     While rejecting the pagan idea of the despotic god-king, the Christian idea of the emperor as the image of the Heavenly King also excluded the no less pagan idea of democratism, rule by the people. Thus Eusebius: “The example of monarchical rule there is a source of strength to him. This is something granted to man alone of the creatures of the earth by the universal King. The basic principle of kingly authority is the establishment of a single source of authority to which everything is subject. Monarchy is superior to every other constitution and form of government. For polyarchy, where everyone competes on equal terms, is really anarchy and discord. This is why there is one God, not two or three or even more. Polytheism is strictly atheism. There is one King, and His Word and royal law are one.”[2] Again, St. Basil the Great wrote: “Even the king of the birds is not elected by the majority because the temerity of the people often nominates for leader the worst one; nor does it receive its power by lot, because the unwise chance of the lot frequently hands over power to the last; nor in accordance with hereditary succession, because those living in luxury and flattery are also less competent and untaught in any virtue; but according to nature one holds the first place over all, both in its size and appearance and meek disposition."[3] And St. Gregory the Theologian wrote: “The three most ancient opinions about God are atheism (or anarchy), polytheism (or polyarchy), and monotheism (or monarchy). The children of Greece played with the first two; let us leave them to their games. For anarchy is disorder: and polyarchy implies factious division, and therefore anarchy and disorder. Both these lead in the same direction – to disorder; and disorder leads to disintegration; for disorder is the prelude to disintegration. What we honour is monarchy…”[4]

     Later generations of Byzantines remained faithful to the hierarchical principle. Thus St. John Chrysostom wrote: “Equality is known to produce strife. Therefore God allowed the human race to be a monarchy, not a democracy. But the family is constructed in a similar way to an army, with the husband holding the rank of monarch, the wife as general and the children also given stations of command.”[5] Again, the champion of St. Chrysostom, St. Isidore of Pelusium, “after pointing to the order of submission of some to others established everywhere by God in the lives or rational and irrational creatures, concludes therefrom: ‘Therefore we are entitled to say that… power, that is, royal leadership and authority, is established by God.”[6] And over four centuries later St. Theodore the Studite generalized the principle as follows: "There is one Lord and Giver of the Law, as it is written: one authority and one Divine principle over all. This single principle is the source of all wisdom, goodness and good order. It extends over every creature that has received its beginning from the goodness of God… It is given to one man only… to construct rules of life in accordance with the likeness of God. For the divine Moses in his description of the origin of the world that comes from the mouth of God, cites the word: 'Let us create man in accordance with Our image and likeness' (Genesis 1.26). Hence the establishment among men of every dominion and every authority, especially in the Churches of God: one patriarch in a patriarchate, one metropolitan in a metropolia, one bishop in a bishopric, one abbot in a monastery, and in secular life, if you want to listen, one king, one regimental commander, one captain on a ship. And if one will did not rule in all this, there would be no law and order in anything, and it would not be for the best, for a multiplicity of wills destroys everything."[7 

     The principle of one-man rule in politics was greatly strengthened in Byzantium by the idea that the fount of all secular law in the empire was the emperor himself. This did not mean, however, that the emperor’s rule was completely arbitrary. He had to obey the Church, on the one hand, and his own laws, on the other. Thus St. Ambrose of Milan wrote to the Emperor St. Theodosius the Great that the emperor must respect and bind himself by the laws he promulgates, or he risks great dangers in the civil sphere: "And how, O Emperor, are we to settle a matter on which you have already declared your judgment, and have even promulgated laws, so that it is not open to any one to judge otherwise? But when you laid down this law for others, you laid it down for yourself as well. For the Emperor is the first to keep the laws which he passes. Do you, then, wish me to try how those who are chosen as judges will either come, contrary to your decision, or at least excuse themselves, saying that they cannot act against so severe and so stringent a law of the Emperor?"[8]

     The Emperor Justinian promulgated the famous principle of the symphony of powers, the idea that Church and State, though independent of each other, were to work together for the salvation of men, each being supreme in its own sphere… From the time of Justinian we also come across the idea that the emperor is “the living law”, the law personified. As Tom Holland writes: “If it was true, as Justinian ringingly declared, that ‘what medicine is to disease, so laws are to public affairs’, then there was much that first needed to be done before the emperor’s prescription could be applied to the sickening world. The sheer scale and antiquity of the Roman people’s achievements in the field of law had resulted in a legacy that was intimidatingly chequered. Justinian, however, was hardly the man to duck such a challenge. His first step, only a few months into his reign, was the appointment of a commission to harmonise the various unwieldy collections of laws used by previous emperors, then, a year and a half late, he charged a second commission with the even more daunting task of collecting the entire stupendous body of private writings on Roman law. Complete constitutions had to be revised, almost two thousand individual books called in and minutely sifted; tens of thousands of excerpts made. The resulting codification, achieved in record time, was so staggering that it appeared to many something more than human. Justinian himself presented it proudly as a process of restoration; but there was something about it as well of a revolution. ‘We have by means of old laws not only brought matters into a better condition, but we have also promulgated new laws.’ The emperor saw no need to conceal the fact. He was himself, as he declared, nomos empsychos – the ‘living law’. Here, in this self-promotion, was the ultimate refinement of what generations of emperors had been working to achieve. Henceforward, the rules by which the Roman people lived and were bound were to have just the single fountainhead: the emperor himself, enthroned in his palatial citadel. No wonder, then, that Justinian should have sought, not merely to impose his stamp upon the long centuries of Roman legal achievement, but also prescribe where and how that achievement should be taught. Private law schools were definitively banned. No teachers were to be licensed, save for those directly sanctioned by the state. Now, more than ever, the whole world was to be administered from the centre, from the palace of Constantinople.”[9]

     This did not mean that the emperor was also to govern the Church. But it did mean that in Greco-Roman antiquity and the Middle Ages, right down to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the idea was firmly established that all true power, whether in Church or State, came from above, from God, being mediated through the one-man leader of the Empire or the collegial leadership of the Church. Whatever rights the emperor had in the Church in Byzantine times were given to him by the Church, for the sake of the Church, and in view of the fact that he was himself specially anointed to the kingdom by the Church. This is a vitally important point which is often overlooked by those who look on Church and State as necessarily warring principles. Just as the soul and the body are not by nature warring principles, even if the fall has often set them against each other, so it is with the Church and State. And yet we must agree with Sir Steven Runciman that “the chief practical problem that faces any organized Church lies in its relation to the State”...[10] 

     The rights of the Emperor in the Church were limited by the fact that he could not perform sacraments, nor did he ordain or defrock bishops and priests. “To be sure, the Emperor wore vestments similar to those of the bishop and even had a special place in the worship of the Church, such as censing the sanctuary at the Liturgy for the Nativity of Christ, offering the sermon during Vespers at the commencement of the Great Lent, and receiving Holy Communion directly from the altar as did the clergy. Nevertheless, the Emperor was not a priest and many Greek Fathers disapproved of even these privileges. Emperor Marcian (451-457) may have been hailed as a priest-king at the Council of Chalcedon (451), but this did not bestow sacerdotal status on him or any Byzantine imperator.”[11] 

     One of the rights given to the Emperor by the Church was that of convening Councils and enforcing their decisions. This right did not empower the emperor or his officials to interfere in the proceedings on a par with the bishops, but it did enable him to make quiet suggestions which were often vitally important. Thus at the First Council it was the Emperor Constantine who quietly suggested the word “consubstantial” to describe the relationship between the Son of God and God the Father.[12] Again, although the Emperor Marcian said that he had decided to be present at the Fourth Ecumenical Council “not as a manifestation of strength, but so as to give firmness to the acts of the Council, taking Constantine of blessed memory as my model,”[13] his firm but tactful intervention was decisive in the triumph of Orthodoxy. 

     The Emperor also had the right to invest the Patriarch. “According to the official formula,” writes Runciman, “the Patriarch was elected by the decree of the Holy Synod and the promotion of the Emperor. His investiture took place in the Imperial Palace in the presence of the high dignitaries of Church and State. Until 1204 the scene was the Palace of Magnaura, where the Emperor in person announced the election with the formula: ‘The Divine grace, and Our Majesty which derives from it, raised the most pious [name] to be Patriarch of Constantinople.’ After 1261 the investiture was held in the triclinium of the Palace of Blachernae; and about the same time the formula was changed. The Emperor now said: ‘The Holy Trinity, through the power that It has given Us, raises you to be Bishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Oecumenical Patriarch.’ By the beginning of the fifteenth century the formula and the setting had changed once more. The investiture now took place in a church in the presence of the Emperor; but it was a high lay official who pronounced the words: ‘Our great and holy Sovereign and the Sacred Synod call Your Holiness to the supreme throne of Patriarch of Constantinople.’ The theologian Symeon of Thessalonica, writing in about 1425, regretted the change of words as there was no mention of God, though he liked the recognition given to the Holy Synod. When the election had thus been proclaimed the Emperor gave to the Patriarch the cross, the purple soutane and the pectoral reliquary which symbolized his office. After this investiture the new Patriarch rode in procession through the streets of Constantinople to the church of Saint Sophia, where he was consecrated by the Metropolitan of Heraclea, in memory of the days when Byzantium had been a suffragan see under Heraclea.”[14]

     The Emperor chose the Patriarch from three candidates put forward to him by the Holy Synod. As Simeon of Thessalonica witnessed, this right was not seized by the emperor by force, “but was entrusted to him from ancient times by the Holy Fathers, that is, by the Church itself”. Moreover, “if none of the three candidates was suitable, the basileus could suggest his own candidate, and the Hierarchical Synod again freely decided about his suitability, having the possibility of not agreeing. The king’s right did not in principle violate the Hierarchs’ freedom of choice and was based on the fact that the Patriarch occupied not only a position in the Church, but was also a participant in political life… Simeon of Thessalonica said: ‘He, as the anointed king, has been from ancient times offered the choice of one of the three by the Holy Fathers, for they [the three] have already been chosen by the Council, and all three have been recognized as worthy of the Patriarchy. The king assists the Council in its actions as the anointed of the Lord, having become the defender and servant of the Church, since during the anointing he gave a promise of such assistance. De jure there can be no question of arbitrariness on the part of the king in the choosing of the Patriarch, or of encroachment on the rights and freedom of choice [of the Hierarchs].’”[15] 

     Another imperial right was that of handing the Patriarch his staff. This should not be interpreted as if the emperor bestowed the grace of the Patriarchy. Nor was it the same as the ceremony of “lay investiture” in the West. The emperor did this, according to Simeon of Thessalonica, “because he wishes to honour the Church, implying also at the same time that he personally accepts the individual now consecrated as his own pastor whom God has chosen for him.”[16]

     “Simeon of Thessalonica explains that in this act the king only witnesses to the fact of his agreement with the installation of the new Patriarch, and after the bestowal of the staff he witnesses to his spiritual submission… by the bowing of his head, his asking for a blessing from the Patriarch and his kissing of his hand. By the grace and action of the Hierarchy, the Patriarch does not differ from the Metropolitans and Bishops. But in the dignity of his see, and in his care for all who are under his authority, he is the father and head of all, consecrating Metropolitans and Bishops, and judging them in conjunction with the Council, while he himself is judged by a Great Council, says Simeon of Thessalonica. The king was present at both the consecration and the enthronement of the Patriarch in the altar…; but the consecration and enthronement were acts of a purely ecclesiastical character, and the king’s participation in them was no longer as active as in the first stages of the process, when he convened the Hierarchical Council, chose one of the three elected by the Council and witnessed to his recognition of him in the act of problhsiV [which gave the Patriarch his rights in Byzantine civil law]. In the act of consecration [assuming that the candidate to the Patriarchy was not already a bishop] Hierarchical grace was invoked upon the man to be consecrated by the Metropolitan of Heraclea, while in the act of enthronement he was strengthened by abundant grace to greater service for the benefit, now, of the whole Church, and not of one Diocese [only].”[17]

     These rights of the emperor in the Church were paralleled by certain rights of the Church in the State, especially the Patriarch’s right of intercession (Russian: pechalovanie). “The Patriarch was called to intercede for the persecuted and those oppressed by the authorities, for the condemned and those in exile, with the aim of easing their lot, and for the poor and those in need with the aim of giving them material or moral support. This right of intercessory complaint, which belonged by dint of the 75th canon of the Council of Carthage to all Diocesan Bishops, was particularly linked with the Patriarch of Constantinople by dint of his high position in the Byzantine State with the king.”[18]

     Also, State officials “were obliged to help the Bishop in supporting Church discipline and punishing transgressors. Sometimes the emperors obliged provincial officials to tell them about Church disturbances which depended on the carelessness of the Bishop, but the emperors gave the Bishops the right to keep an eye on officials, while the Bishops, in carrying out this obligation imposed on them by the civil law, did not thereby become State officials… In the Byzantine laws themselves the Church was distinguished from the State as a special social organism, having a special task distinct from that of the State; these laws recognized the Church as the teacher of the faith and the establisher of Church canons, while the State could only raise them to the status of State laws; Church administration and Church courts were recognized as being bound up with the priestly rank.”[19]

     “In reviewing Byzantine ideas on royal power, we must recognize the fact that, in spite of the influence of pagan traditions, in spite of Saracen Muslim influences leading to a confusion of powers, in spite of the bad practices of arianizing and iconoclast emperors, it remained a dogma of Byzantine law to recognize the Church of Christ as a special society, parallel to the State, standing separate and above the latter by its aims and means, by dint of which the supreme head of the State was by no means the head of the other, ecclesiastical union, and, if he entered into it in the position of a special sacred rank, it was far from being the higher, but was only equal to the deacon’s, being subject thereby to the canons which established the Church as a Divine institution having its own legislation, administration and court…”[20]

     The State is rooted in the family, so that the head of the State, the Emperor or King, is like the Father of all his citizens. However, if the Emperor is the father of his people, the Patriarch is the father of the Emperor, and was so called in Byzantium and in all her daughter-autocracies: Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia and Russia. Thus Emperor Theodosius the Great, embraced St. Meletius, president of the Second Ecumenical Council, as his father. In Serbia, this spiritual relationship was even paralleled by physical paternity: St. Symeon, the first Nemanja king, was the physical father of the first archbishop, St. Savva, but at the same time his spiritual son. Again, in Russia the first Romanov Tsar, Mikhail Fyodorovich, was the spiritual and natural son of Patriarch Philaret. This emphasized that Christian politics, as represented by the Emperor or Tsar, should ideally be conformed to – even “begotten by” - the other-worldly spirit and aims of Christian spirituality, as represented by the Patriarch.


     Before turning to the Third Rome, Russia, let us briefly examine two further examples of Orthodox autocracy in the period of the Second Rome – England and Serbia. 

     The monarchy had always been a sacred institution among the English. Both the king and the archbishop were “the Lord’s Anointed” – the archbishop in order to minister the sacraments of salvation, and the king so that, as St. Bede wrote “he might by conquering all our enemies bring us to the immortal Kingdom”.[21] The king was sometimes compared to God the Father and the bishop – to Christ. Thus in his letter to Charlemagne Cathwulf compared the king to the Father and the bishop to the Son. He was the shepherd and father of his people and would have to answer for them at the Last Judgement. According to King Aethelred’s law-code of 1014, “a Christian king is Christ’s deputy in a Christian people”. 

     The Church strongly preached the people’s duty of loyalty to the king. Thus Abbot Aelfric wrote: “The people can choose whomever they like as king. But after he is consecrated as king, then he has dominion over the people, and they cannot shake off his yoke from their neck.”[22] For, as Archbishop Wulfstan of York wrote: “Through what shall peace and support come to God’s servants and to God’s poor, save through Christ, and through a Christian king?”[23] 

     “Indeed the pre-eminence of the monarchy, for all the political vicissitudes involving changes of dynasty, is the outstanding feature that strikes the careful student of eleventh-century England. To all who wrote or legislated, the king was supremely the symbol of the nation. It is sometimes forgotten how many sides of the life of the community were brought together under royal surveillance: the coinage, supervision of general administration of justice through shire and hundred and tithing, provision of good title to land by means of charters, and protection of the Church. It might be said of England in the tenth and eleventh centuries that king and community grew together. There is evidence of strong loyalty to the monarchy, and the Church helped to encourage this feeling. During the tenth century coronation rites were introduced that made the coronation of Edgar a splendid and symbolic moment in the life of the nation. The promises given by King Edgar at his coronation reappeared in the Coronation Charter of Henry I; indeed in essentials the ritual of this Anglo-Saxon ceremony remains the core around which has been constructed the elaborate detail of modern coronations…”[24] 

     Although, as we have seen, King Aethelred at a low point in his reign considered some kind of constitutional arrangement with his people, there is no hint of democratism in Anglo-Saxon concepts of government. For, as Deacon Alcuin of York wrote, “the people should be led, not followed, as God has ordained… Those who say, ‘The voice of the people is the voice of God,’ are not to be listened to, for the unruliness of the mob is always close to madness.”[25] So democratism was definitely rejected by the early English.

     The killing of the king was seen as an especially heinous crime, which could be atoned only by the suffering of the whole nation. That is why the murder of St. Edward (and later, that of Prince Alfred, brother of St. Edward the Confessor), as well as the expulsion of King Aethelred, were seen as so ominous, and closely connected with the disasters that followed them. Thus in the eyes of Archbishop Wulfstan, “Aethelred’s expulsion from his kingdom in 1013 seemed a crime heinous enough to account for the ills with which God was punishing the English.”[26]

     Indeed, according to the archbishop in his famous “Sermon of the Wolf to the English” (1014), it was disloyalty at every level of English society that led to the disasters suffered at the hands of the Danes: “For there are here in the land great disloyalties towards God and towards the state, and there are also many here in the country who are betrayers of their lords in various ways. And the greatest betrayal in the world of one’s lord is that a man betray his lord’s soul; and it is also a very great betrayal of one’s lord in the world, that a man should plot against his lord’s life or, living, drive him from the land; and both have happened in this country. They plotted against Edward and then killed him…

     “Many are foresworn and greatly perjured, and pledges are broken over and again; and it is evident in this nation that the wrath of God violently oppresses us…”[27] 

     However, the veneration due to the Lord’s Anointed went together with definite responsibilities on his part. St. Dunstan had close personal relationships with six kings, and crowned and anointed three of them. He also probably played an important part in the composition of the rite itself.[28]

     Instead of a constitution, in tenth-century England the king had to submit to an oath, or Promissio. Thus St. Dunstan, gave the following Promissio to King Aethelred to read at his coronation at Kingston in 979[29]:-

     "In the Name of the Holy Trinity, I promise three things to the Christian people and my subjects: first, that God's Church and all Christian people of my dominion hold true peace; the second is that I forbid robbery and all unrighteous things to all orders; the third, that I promise and enjoin in all dooms justice and mercy, that the gracious and merciful God of His Everlasting Mercy may forgive us, who liveth and reigneth."

     The saint then commented on this: “The Christian king who keeps these engagements, earns for himself worldly honour, and the Eternal God also is merciful to him, both in the present life and in the eternal life that never ends. But if he violate that which was promised to God, then shall it forthwith right soon grow worse among his people, and in the end it all turns to the worst, unless he in life first amend it. Ah! dear lord, take diligent heed to thyself by all means; often call to mind this, thou wilt have at God's judgment to produce and lead forth the flock of which thou hast been made the shepherd in this life, and then give account how thou heldest that which Christ afore purchased with His Own Blood.

     “The duty of an anointed king is that he judge no man unjustly, defend and protect widows and orphans and strangers, forbid stealing, correct unlawful intercourse, and annul and altogether forbid incestuous unions, extirpate witches and magicians, drive out of the land killers of relatives and perjurers, feed the needy with alms, have old and wise and sober men as counselors, and install righteous men as stewards. For in the day of judgement he will have to give an account for whatever injustice they have committed which is his responsibility.”[30] 

     Crimes against the Church or her servants were seen as crimes against the king, and duly punished. The king saw it as his duty to look after the Church and enforce her laws with secular penalties. And yet the relationship between Church and State in England was “symphonic”, not caesaropapist; for the kings did nothing without consulting their bishops and senior nobles – all meetings of the witan were attended by bishops as well as nobles. Indeed, according to Archbishop Wulfstan, it was the monarchy that depended on the faith and the Church, not the other way round. “It is true what I say: should the Christian faith weaken, the kingship will immediately totter.”[31]

     Thus, as Frank Barlow says, “a true theocratic government was created, yet one, despite the common charge of confusion against the Anglo-Saxon Church, remarkably free of confusion in theory. The duality of the two spheres was emphatically proclaimed. There were God’s rights and the king’s rights, Christ’s laws and the laws of the world. There was an independent ecclesiastical jurisdiction under the control of the bishop, but there was also the helping hand of the secular power which the church had invoked and which it could use at its discretion.”[32]


     In 1219 The Byzantines granted the Serbian Church autocephaly in the person of her first archbishop, St. Savva. This was a unique event in that full autocephaly, - as opposed to, for example, the semi-autocephaly of the Bulgarian Church centred at Ohrid, - had never been granted before to any Church by the Byzantines. (The Georgian Church had been granted autocephaly from Antioch in one of the Ecumenical Councils.) As Alexander Dvorkin writes, St. Savva “received practically complete independence from Constantinople and jurisdiction ‘over all the Serbian and coastal lands’ (an unambiguous reference to Zeta [Montenegro], which had left to join the Latins). Thus the status of the Serbian Church was in essence equivalent to that of a patriarchate or to the autocephalous Churches of today. The one link with Constantinople that was demanded of it was the commemoration of the Ecumenical Patriarch in the Eucharistic prayer (‘Among the first, O Lord, remember…’). The autocephalous status of the Serbian Church became in many ways a new formula…

     “The establishment of the Serbian demonstrated a subtle, but very important evolution in the meaning of the concept of autocephaly. Before that, with the single exception of Georgia, all the autocephalous Churches had been in the Empire and had acquired juridical status by a one-man decision of the emperor or by a decree of an Ecumenical Council. The new autocephalies (that is, Serbia and Bulgaria) were created by means of bilateral agreements between two civil governments. This reflected the new tendency to view ecclesiastical autocephaly as the mark of a national state, which undoubtedly created a precedent for ecclesiastical relations in recent history, when increasingly passionate nationalist politics – both in the Balkans and in other places – turned the struggle for national autocephalies into the phenomenon which we know today as ecclesiastical phyletism…[33]

     And yet the Serbian autocephaly was neither motivated by phyletism, nor were its consequences in the medieval period anything other than good. For the Serbs proceeded to create one of the most perfect examples of Church-State symphony in Orthodox history. Both in the fact that the first king, St. Stefan, and the first archbishop of the Nemanja dynasty, St. Savva, were father and son, and that the son became the spiritual father of his physical father, we see a profound symbol of the true relationship between Church and State, in which the physical pre-eminence of the State is controlled and purified by the spiritual pre-eminence of the Church. 

     Moreover, St. Savva enshrined the ideal in his Zakonopravilo or Kormchija, “a code,” as Dmitrije Bogdanovich writes, “written in 1220 and consisting of a selection of Byzantine legal texts, to be enforced in the Serbian Church and State life. Under the title of ‘The Law of the Holy Fathers’, they were enforced throughout the Middle Ages; to a certain extent, they were valid even later, during the reign of the Ottoman empire. It is a known fact that the reason behind the drafting of this code was the planned establishment of an independent, autocephalous Serbian Church. On his way back from Nicaea, where in 1219 he succeeded in having the autocephaly recognized, thus securing the preconditions for the organization of a new Church, Serbia’s first archbishop St. Sava, aided by a group of collaborators and working on Mount Athos and in Salonika, put together a selection of Byzantine Church laws, relying on the existing nomocanon but taking a highly characteristic course. Instead of following the existing nomocanonic codes, where certain commentators opposed the original symphony of the political and ecclesiastical elements, subordinating the latter to the former, Sava selected texts which, as opposed to the ideas and relations then obtaining in Byzantium (‘Caesaropapism’, the supremacy of the State over the Church), constituted a return to the old, authentic relation, i.e. the original Orthodox, early Byzantine political philosophy.

     “’St. Sava’, as S. Troitsky puts it, ‘rejected all the sources containing “traces of the Hellenic evil” in the form of the theory of Caesaropapism’, since that theory went against the dogmatic and canonical doctrine of the episcopate as the seat of Church authority, as well as the political situation in Serbia, where imperial authority had not yet been established at the time. He also rejected the theory of “Eastern Papism”, which, according to Troitsky, imposes the supremacy of the Church of Constantinople over all the other local Churches of the Orthodox oecumene – and which was, moreover, at variance with the dogmatic doctrine of the Council as the supreme organ of Church authority, with the canonical doctrine proclaiming the equality of the heads of the autocephalous Churches, and with the position of the Serbian Church itself, which met the fundamental canonical condition of autocephaly (that of independently electing its own bishops), so that any interference of the Patriarch of Constantinople in its affairs would have been anticanonical. Sava therefore left out of the Nomocanon any work from the Byzantine canonical sources in which either the centripetal ideology of Caesaropapism or the Eastern Papism theory was recognized; he resolutely ‘stood on the ground of the diarchic theory of symphony’, even to the extent of amending it somewhat…”[34]

     “Serbian history,” writes Bishop Nikolai, “never knew of any struggle between Church and state. There were no such struggles, but bloody wars have filled the history of Western nations. How does one explain the difference between the two cases? The one is explained by theodulia [the service of God]; the other by theocracy.

     “Let us take two tame oxen as an example, how they are both harnessed to the same yoke, pull the same cart, and serve the same master. This is theodulia. Then let us take two oxen who are so enraged with each other that one moment the ox on the left pulls himself out from the yoke and gores the other one, goading him on to pull the cart alone, while the next moment the ox on the right does the same to his companion on the left. This is theocracy: the war of the Church against the state and the war of the state against the Church; the war of the pope against kings and the war of kings against the pope. Neither ox wished to be yoked and serve the Master; each of them wanted to play the role of the Master and drive his companion under the yoke. Thus the Master’s cart has remained stationary and his field uncultivated and has eventually become completely overgrown with weeds. This is what happened in the West.”[35] 

     “In those days the problem of relations between the Church and the State did not disquiet people as it does in our days, at least not in the Orthodox countries. It had been regulated as it were by itself, through long tradition. Whenever Caesaropapism or Papocaesarism tried to prevail by force, it had been overcome in a short time. For there existed no tradition in the Church of the East of an augustus [emperor] being at the same time Pontifex Maximus, or vice-versa. There were unfortunate clashes between civil and ecclesiastical authorities on personal grounds, but those clashes were temporary and passing. Or, if such clashes and disagreements arose on matters of religious doctrines and principles, threatening the unity of the Christian people, the Councils had to judge and decide. Whoever was found guilty could not escape condemnation by the Councils, be he Emperor or Patriarch or anybody else.

     “Savva’s conception of the mutual relations between Church and State was founded upon a deeper conception of the aim of man’s life on earth. He clearly realized that all rightful terrestrial aims should be considered only as means towards a celestial end. He was tireless in pointing out the true aim of man’s existence in this short life span on earth. That aim is the Kingdom of Heaven according to Christ’s revelation. Consequently, both the Church and the State authorities are duty-bound to help people towards that supreme end. If they want to compete with one another, let them compete in serving people in the fear of God and not by quarrelling about honors and rights or by grabbing prerogatives from one another. The King and the Archbishop are called to be servants of God by serving the people towards the final and eternal aim…”[36]

     The most powerful of the Serbian kings, under whom the autocracy reached its fullest development, was Tsar Dushan. He published an “Archangelic Charter”, whose introduction set out his political theology in impressive style. The foundation of all power is the Lord God, Who dwells in eternal light. The earthly ruler is a lord only for a time; he does not dwell in eternal light; and his splendour is only a reflection of the splendour of the Lord God. The incarnation of God the Word, His humiliation and descent, is imitated by the earthly ruler in his constant self-correction and the thought of death: “I am reminded of the terrible hour of death, for all the prophets, and apostles, and martyrs, and saints, and emperors died in the end; none of them remained, all were buried, and the earth received them all like a mother”. At the same time, the ruler, if he protects Orthodoxy and is guided by love for God, earns the titles “holy lord”, “patriot”, “enlightener of Serbia” and “peace libator”. In accordance with this dual character of the ruler’s power, his subjects are obliged, on the one hand, to obey him, in accordance with St. Paul’s word, and on the other to criticise him if he departs from the true path. For while power as such is from God, those in power may act in accordance with God’s will or against it.[37] 

     Dushan’s code, writes Rebecca West, “brought up to date the laws made by the earlier kings of the Nemanyan dynasty and was a nicely balanced fusion of Northern jurisprudence and the Byzantine system laid down by Justinian. It coped in an agreeable and ingenious spirit with the needs of a social structure not at all to be despised even in comparison with the West. 

     “There, at this time, the land was divided among great feudal lords who ruled over innumerable serfs; but here in Serbia there were very few serfs, so few that they formed the smallest class in the community, and there was a large class of small free landowners. There was a National Diet which met to discuss such important matters as the succession to the throne or the outbreak of civil war, and this consisted of the sovereigns, their administrators, the great and small nobility, and the higher clergy; it was some smaller form of this, designed to act in emergencies that met to discuss whether John Cantacuzenus should receive Serbian aid. All local government was in the hands of the whole free community, and so was all justice, save for the special cases that were reserved for royal jurisdiction, such as high treason, murder, and highway robbery. This means that the people as a whole could deal with matters that they all understood, while the matters that were outside common knowledge were settled for them by their sovereign and selected members of their own kind; for there were no closed classes, and both the clergy and the nobility were constantly recruited from the peasantry.”[38]


     Let us turn now to the greatest example of Orthodox autocracy – Russia, the Third Rome. 

     The whole of Russian history from Riurik to Nicholas II (862-1917) was the history of only two, interrelated dynasties – the Riuriks and the Romanovs. Only in the Time of Troubles (1598-1612) was that dynastic continuity briefly interrupted. This continuity of the hereditary principle in Russian history has no parallel in world history with the possible exception of the very different case of China.

     And yet the Troubles themselves cannot be understood if we do not take into account the continuing importance of the hereditary principle in the Russian mind in that period. According to V.O. Kliuchevsky, the soil for the Time of Troubles “was prepared by the harassed state of the people’s minds, by a general state of discontent with the reign of Ivan the Terrible – discontent that increased under Boris Godunov. The end of the dynasty and the subsequent attempt to revive it in the persons of the pretenders provided a stimulus for the Troubles. Their basic causes were, first, the people’s view of the old dynasty’s relation to the Muscovite state and consequently their difficulty in grasping the idea of an elected tsar, and secondly – the political structure of the state, which created social discord by its heavy demands on the people and an inequitable distribution of state dues. The first cause gave rise to the need of reviving the extinct ruling line, and thus furthered the pretenders’ success; the second transformed a dynastic squabble into social and political anarchy.”[39]

     The Russian people understood the state to be the personal property of the tsar and of his blood descendants. They could not conceive of a non-hereditary tsar, a legitimate ruler who was not the heir by blood of the previous tsar; hence the confusion when the last Riurik tsar, Theodore, died without issue. Boris Godunov was related to the Riuriks by marriage – but may have killed the Tsarevich Dmitri.  So he, in the end, was rejected by the people. Tsar Vasili Shuisky was not a Riurik, but was “the boyars’ tsar”. So he, too, was not acceptable. The pretenders were followed because they claimed to be the Tsarevich. But their claims were of course false.

     The tsar had to be a “born tsar”, “born in the purple”, as the Byzantines put it. Only Michael Romanov fitted that role because his family was related to the Riuriks through Ivan IV’s first wife, Anastasia Romanova. And so in almost all his proclamations Michael called himself the grandson of Ivan the Terrible. During his coronation Michael declared that “Russia had suffered terrible trials in the fifteen years since the death of the last rightful tsar, his cousin Fyodor, son of Ivan the Terrible. Now Russians must restore peace and order…”[40]

     Since the hereditary principle is commonly considered to be irrational insofar as it supposedly places the government of the State “at the mercy of chance”, it will be worth examining its significance in Russian Orthodox statehood more closely.

     Some points need emphasizing. First, the hereditary principle was upheld by a still deeper principle: that the tsar had to be Orthodox. The second False Dmitri and the Polish King Sigismund’s son Vladislav were both rejected by St. Hermogen, Patriarch of Moscow, because they were Catholics. 

     Secondly, after electing the first Romanov tsar, the people retained no right to depose him or any of his successors. On the contrary, they elected a hereditary dynasty, and specifically bound themselves by an oath to be loyal to that dynasty forever. Hence the peculiar horror and accursedness of their rejection of Tsar Nicholas II in 1917…

     It follows that the hereditary tsar’s rule is inviolable. As Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow writes: “A government that is not fenced about by an inviolability that is venerated religiously by the whole people cannot act with the whole fullness of power or that freedom of zeal that is necessary for the construction and preservation of the public good and security. How can it develop its whole strength in its most beneficial direction, when its power constantly finds itself in an insecure position, struggling with other powers that cut short its actions in as many different directions as are the opinions, prejudices and passions more or less dominant in society? How can it surrender itself to the full force of its zeal, when it must of necessity divide its attentions between care for the prosperity of society and anxiety about its own security? But if the government is so lacking in firmness, then the State is also lacking in firmness. Such a State is like a city built on a volcanic mountain: what significance does its hard earth have when under it is hidden a power that can at any minute turn everything into ruins? Subjects who do not recognize the inviolability of rulers are incited by the hope of licence to achieve licence and predominance, and between the horrors of anarchy and oppression they cannot establish in themselves that obedient freedom which is the focus and soul of public life.”[41]

     Thirdly, while the Zemsky Sobor of 1613 was an election, it was by no means a democratic election, but rather a recognition of God’s election of a ruler on the model of the Israelites’ election of Jephtha (Judges 11.11). For, as Fr. Lev Lebedev writes: “Tsars are not elected! And a Council, even a Zemsky Sobor, cannot be the source of his power. The kingdom is a calling of God, the Council can determine who is the lawful Tsar and summon him.”[42] Again, as Ivan Solonevich writes, “when, after the Time of Troubles, the question was raised concerning the restoration of the monarchy, there was no hint of an ‘election to the kingdom’. There was a ‘search’ for people who had the greatest hereditary right to the throne. And not an ‘election’ of the more worthy. There were not, and could not be, any ‘merits’ in the young Michael Fyodorovich. But since only the hereditary principle affords the advantage of absolutely indisputability, it was on this that the ‘election’ was based.”[43]

     St. John Maximovich writes: “It was almost impossible to elect some person as tsar for his qualities; everyone evaluated the candidates from his own point of view…. 

     “What drew the hearts of all to Michael Romanov? He had neither experience of statecraft, nor had he done any service to the state. He was not distinguished by the state wisdom of Boris Godunov or by the eminence of his race, as was Basil Shuisky. He was sixteen years old, and ‘Misha Romanov’, as he was generally known, had not yet managed to show his worth in anything. But why did the Russian people rest on him, and why with his crowning did all the quarrels and disturbances regarding the royal throne come to an end? The Russian people longed for a lawful, ‘native’ Sovereign, and was convinced that without him there could be no order or peace in Russia. When Boris Godunov and Prince Basil Shuisky were elected, although they had, to a certain degree, rights to the throne through their kinship with the previous tsars, they were not elected by reason of their exclusive rights, but their personalities were taken into account. There was no strict lawful succession in their case. This explained the success of the pretenders. However, it was almost impossible to elect someone as tsar for his qualities. Everyone evaluated the candidates from their point of view. However, the absence of a definite law which would have provided an heir in the case of the cutting off of the line of the Great Princes and Tsars of Moscow made it necessary for the people itself to indicate who they wanted as tsar. The descendants of the appanage princes, although they came from the same race as that of the Moscow Tsars (and never forgot that), were in the eyes of the people simple noblemen, ‘serfs’ of the Moscow sovereigns; their distant kinship with the royal line had already lost its significance. Moreover, it was difficult to establish precisely which of the descendants of St. Vladimir on the male side had the most grounds for being recognized as the closest heir to the defunct royal line. In such circumstances all united in the suggestion that the extinct Royal branch should be continued by the closest relative of the last ‘native’, lawful Tsar. The closest relatives of Tsar Theodore Ioannovich were his cousins on his mother’s side: Theodore, in monasticism Philaret, and Ivan Nikitich Romanov, both of whom had sons. In that case the throne had to pass to Theodore, as the eldest, but his monasticism and the rank of Metropolitan of Rostov was an obstacle to this. His heir was his only son Michael. Thus the question was no longer about the election of a Tsar, but about the recognition that a definite person had the rights to the throne. The Russian people, tormented by the time of troubles and the lawlessness, welcomed this decision, since it saw that order could be restored only by a lawful ‘native’ Tsar. The people remembered the services of the Romanovs to their homeland, their sufferings for it, the meek Tsaritsa Anastasia Romanova, the firmness of Philaret Nikitich. All this still more strongly attracted the hearts of the people to the announced tsar. But these qualities were possessed also by some other statesmen and sorrowers for Rus’. And this was not the reason for the election of Tsar Michael Romanov, but the fact that in him Rus’ saw their most lawful and native Sovereign.

     “In the acts on the election to the kingdom of Michael Fyodorovich, the idea that he was ascending the throne by virtue of his election by the people was carefully avoided, and it was pointed out that the new Tsar was the elect of God, the direct descendant of the last lawful Sovereign.”[44]

     Fourthly, the tsar is above the law. As Solonevich writes: “The fundamental idea of the Russian monarchy was most vividly and clearly expressed by A.S. Pushkin just before the end of his life: ‘There must be one person standing higher than everybody, higher even than the law.’ In this formulation, ‘one man’, Man is placed in very big letters above the law. This formulation is completely unacceptable for the Roman-European cast of mind, for which the law is everything: dura lex, sed lex. The Russian mind places, man, mankind, the soul higher than the law, giving to the law only that place which it should occupy: the place occupied by traffic rules. Of course, with corresponding punishments for driving on the left side. Man is not for the sabbath, but the sabbath for man. It is not that man is for the fulfilment of the law, but the law is for the preservation of man…

     “The whole history of humanity is filled with the struggle of tribes, people, nations, classes, estates, groups, parties, religions and whatever you like. It’s as Hobbes put it: ‘War by everyone against everyone’. How are we to find a neutral point in this struggle? An arbiter standing above the tribes, nations, peoples, classes, estates, etc.? Uniting the people, classes and religions into a common whole? Submitting the interests of the part to the interests of the whole? And placing moral principles above egoism, which is always characteristic of every group pushed forward to the summit of public life?”[45]

     But if the tsar is above the law, how can he not be a tyrant, insofar as, in the famous words of Lord Acton, “power corrupts, and absolute power absolutely corrupts”? 

     In order to answer this question we must remember, first, that as we have seen, the tsar’s power is not absolute insofar as he is limited by the law of God and Orthodoxy.

     Secondly, it is not only tsars, but rulers of all kinds that are subject to the temptations of power. Indeed, these temptations may even be worse with democratic rulers; for whereas the tsar stands above all factional interests, an elected president necessarily represents the interests only of his party at the expense of the country as a whole. “Western thought,” writes Solonevich, “sways from the dictatorship of capitalism to the dictatorship of the proletariat, but no representative of this thought has even so much as thought of ‘the dictatorship of conscience’.”[46]

     “The distinguishing characteristic of Russian monarchy, which was given to it at its birth, consists in the fact that the Russian monarchy expressed the will not of the most powerful, but the will of the whole nation, religiously given shape by Orthodoxy and politically given shape by the Empire. The will of the nation, religiously given shape by Orthodoxy will be ‘the dictatorship of conscience’ Only in this way can we explain the possibility of the manifesto of February 19, 1861 [when Tsar Alexander II freed the peasants]: ‘the dictatorship of conscience’ was able overcome the opposition of the ruling class, and the ruling class proved powerless. We must always have this distinction in mind: the Russian monarchy is the expression of the will, that is: the conscience, of the nation, not the will of the capitalists, which both French Napoleons expressed, or the will of the aristocracy, which all the other monarchies of Europe expressed: the Russian monarchy is the closest approximation to the ideal of monarchy in general. This ideal was never attained by the Russian monarchy – for the well-known reason that no ideal is realizable in our life. In the history of the Russian monarchy, as in the whole of our world, there were periods of decline, of deviation, of failure, but there were also periods of recovery such as world history has never known.”[47]

     Now State power, which, like power in the family or the tribe, always includes in itself an element of coercion, “is constructed in three ways: by inheritance, by election and by seizure: monarchy, republic, dictatorship. In practice all of these change places: the man who seizes power becomes a hereditary monarch (Napoleon I), the elected president becomes the same (Napoleon III), or tries to become it (Oliver Cromwell). The elected ‘chancellor’, Hitler, becomes a seizer of power. But in general these are nevertheless exceptions.

     “Both a republic and a dictatorship presuppose a struggle for power – democratic in the first case and necessarily bloody in the second: Stalin – Trotsky, Mussolini-Matteotti, Hitler-Röhm. In a republic, as a rule, the struggle is unbloody. However, even an unbloody struggle is not completely without cost. Aristide Briand, who became French Prime Minister several times, admitted that 95% of his strength was spent on the struggle for power and only five percent on the work of power. And even this five percent was exceptionally short-lived.

     “Election and seizure are, so to speak, rationalist methods. Hereditary power is, strictly speaking, the power of chance, indisputable if only because the chance of birth is completely indisputable. You can recognize or not recognize the principle of monarchy in general. But no one can deny the existence of the positive law presenting the right of inheriting the throne to the first son of the reigning monarch. Having recourse to a somewhat crude comparison, this is something like an ace in cards… An ace is an ace. No election, no merit, and consequently no quarrel. Power passes without quarrel and pain: the king is dead, long live the king!”[48]

     We may interrupt Solonevich’s argument here to qualify his use of the word “chance”. The fact that a man inherits the throne only because he is the firstborn of his father may be “by chance” from a human point of view. But from the Divine point of view it is election. For, as Bishop Ignaty Brianchaninov writes: “There is no blind chance! God rules the world, and everything that takes place in heaven and beneath the heavens takes place according to the judgement of the All-wise and All-powerful God.”[49] Moreover, as Bishop Ignaty also writes, “in blessed Russia, according to the spirit of the pious people, the Tsar and the fatherland constitute one whole, as in a family the parents and their children constitute one whole.”[50] This being so, it was only natural that the law of succession should be hereditary, from father to son.

     Solonevich continues: “The human individual, born by chance as heir to the throne, is placed in circumstances which guarantee him the best possible professional preparation from a technical point of view. His Majesty Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich was probably one of the most educated people of his time. The best professors of Russia taught him both law and strategy and history and literature. He spoke with complete freedom in three foreign languages. His knowledge was not one-sided… and was, if one can so express it, living knowledge…

     “The Russian tsar was in charge of everything and was obliged to know everything - it goes without saying, as far as humanly possible. He was a ‘specialist’ in that sphere which excludes all specialization. This was a specialism standing above all the specialisms of the world and embracing them all. That is, the general volume of erudition of the Russian monarch had in mind that which every philosophy has in mind: the concentration in one point of the whole sum of human knowledge. However, with this colossal qualification, that ‘the sum of knowledge’ of the Russian tsars grew in a seamless manner from the living practice of the past and was checked against the living practice of the present. True, that is how almost all philosophy is checked – for example, with Robespierre, Lenin and Hitler – but, fortunately for humanity, such checking takes place comparatively rarely….

     “The heir to the Throne, later the possessor of the Throne, is placed in such conditions under which temptations are reduced… to a minimum. He is given everything he needs beforehand. At his birth he receives an order, which he, of course, did not manage to earn, and the temptation of vainglory is liquidated in embryo. He is absolutely provided for materially – the temptation of avarice is liquidated in embryo. He is the only one having the Right – and so competition falls away, together with everything linked with it. Everything is organized in such a way that the personal destiny of the individual should be welded together into one whole with the destiny of the nation. Everything that a person would want to have for himself is already given him. And the person automatically merges with the general good.

     “One could say that all this is possessed also by a dictator of the type of Napoleon, Stalin or Hitler. But this would be less than half true: everything that the dictator has he conquered, and all this he must constantly defend – both against competitors and against the nation. The dictator is forced to prove every day that it is precisely he who is the most brilliant, great, greatest and inimitable, for if not he, but someone else, is not the most brilliant, then it is obvious that that other person has the right to power…

     “We can, of course, quarrel over the principle of ‘chance’ itself. A banal, rationalist, pitifully scientific point of view is usually formulated thus: the chance of birth may produce a defective man. But we, we will elect the best… Of course, ‘the chance of birth’ can produce a defective man. We have examples of this: Tsar Theodore Ivanovich. Nothing terrible happened. For the monarchy ‘is not the arbitrariness of a single man’, but ‘a system of institutions’, - a system can operate temporarily even without a ‘man’. But simple statistics show that the chances of such ‘chance’ events occurring are very small. The chance of ‘a genius on the throne’ appearing is still smaller.

     “I proceed from the axiom that a genius in politics is worse than the plague. For a genius is a person who thinks up something that is new in principle. In thinking up something that is new in principle, he invades the organic life of the country and cripples it, as it was crippled by Napoleon, Stalin and Hitler…

     “The power of the tsar is the power of the average, averagely clever man over two hundred million average, averagely clever people… V. Klyuchevsky said with some perplexity that the first Muscovite princes, the first gatherers of the Russian land, were completely average people: - and yet, look, they gathered the Russian land. This is quite simple: average people have acted in the interests of average people and the line of the nation has coincided with the line of power. So the average people of the Novgorodian army went over to the side of the average people of Moscow, while the average people of the USSR are running away in all directions from the genius of Stalin.”[51]  

     Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow expressed the superiority of the hereditary over the elective principle as follows: “What conflict does election for public posts produce in other peoples! With what conflict, and sometimes also with what alarm do they attain the legalization of the right of public election! Then there begins the struggle, sometimes dying down and sometimes rising up again, sometimes for the extension and sometimes for the restriction of this right. The incorrect extension of the right of social election is followed by its incorrect use. It would be difficult to believe it if we did not read in foreign newspapers that elective votes are sold; that sympathy or lack of sympathy for those seeking election is expressed not only by votes for and votes against, but also by sticks and stones, as if a man can be born from a beast, and rational business out of the fury of the passions; that ignorant people make the choice between those in whom wisdom of state is envisaged, lawless people participate in the election of future lawgivers, peasants and craftsmen discuss and vote, not about who could best keep order in the village or the society of craftsmen, but about who is capable of administering the State.

     “Thanks be to God! It is not so in our fatherland. Autocratic power, established on the age-old law of heredity, which once, at a time of impoverished heredity, was renewed and strengthened on its former basis by a pure and rational election, stands in inviolable firmness and acts with calm majesty. Its subjects do not think of striving for the right of election to public posts in the assurance that the authorities care for the common good and know through whom and how to construct it.”[52 

     “God, in accordance with the image of His heavenly single rule, has established a tsar on earth; in accordance with the image of His almighty power, He has established an autocratic tsar; in accordance with the image of His everlasting Kingdom, which continues from age to age, He has established a hereditary tsar.”[53]

     An elected president is installed by the will of man, and can be said to be installed by the will of God only indirectly, by permission. By contrast, the determination of who will be born as the heir to the throne is completely beyond the power of man, and so entirely within the power of God. The hereditary principle therefore ensures that the tsar will indeed be elected – but by God, not by man.

     Thus Professor I.M. Andreyev has characterized the three forms of statehood as follows: “Of the three forms of state power – monarchy, democracy and despotism – strictly speaking, only the first (monarchy) is based on a religious-ethical principle, the second (democracy) is based on an a-religious-ethical principle, and the third (despotism) is based on an anti-religious (satanic) principle.”[54]


October 13/26, 2017.

Uncovering of the Relics of St. Edward the Confessor, King of England.


[1] Eusebius, Oration in Honour of Constantine.

[2] Eusebius, Oration in Honour of Constantine.

[3] St. Basil the Great, Hexaemeron 8. In accordance with Roman conceptions, St. Basil did not believe that monarchical power had to be hereditary. The virtue of hereditary succession was developed later.

[4] St. Gregory, Sermon 29, 2. Cf. Sermon 3, 2.

[5] St. John Chrysostom, Homily 34 on I Corinthians, 7.

[6] Archbishop Theophan of Poltava, in Richard Betts and Vyacheslav Marchenko, Dukhovnik Tsarskoj Sem’i: Svyatitel’ Feofan Poltavskij (The Spiritual Father of the Royal Family: Holy Hierarch Theophan of Poltava), Moscow: Balaam Society of America, 1994, p. 213.

[7] St. Theodore, The Philokalia, volume IV, p. 93; in Archbishop Seraphim (Sobolev), Russkaia Ideologia (The Russian Ideology), St. Petersburg, 1992, pp. 46-47.

[8] St. Ambrose, Epistle 21, 9.

[9] Holland, In the Shadow of the Sword, London: Abacus, 2014, pp. 159-160.

[10] Runciman, The Great Church in Captivity, Cambridge University Press, 1968, p. 55.

[11] The Lives of the Pillars of Orthodoxy, Buena Vista, Co.: Holy Apostles’ Convent, p. 125.

[12] Archbishop Averky (Taushev) of Syracuse, Sem’ Vselenskikh Soborov (The Seven Ecumenical Councils), Moscow, 1996, p. 11.

[13] Averky, op.cit., p. 71.

[14] Runciman, op. cit., p. 27.

[15] Zyzykin, Patriarkh Nikon, Warsaw: Synodal Press, 1931, part I, pp. 116, 117.

[16] Zyzykin, op. cit., part I, pp. 322-323.

[17] Zyzykin, op. cit., part I, pp. 120-121.

[18] Zyzykin, op. cit., part I, p. 121.

[19] Zyzykin, op. cit., part I, p. 137.

[20] Zyzykin, op. cit., part I, p. 139.

[21] St. Bede the Venerable, Commentary on Acts.

[22] Abbot Aelfric, Catholic Homily on Palm Sunday.

[23] Archbishop Wulfstan, Institutes of Christian Polity (1023).

[24] Loyn, Anglo-Saxon England and the Norman Conquest, London: Longmans, 1962, p. 214.

[25] Deacon Alcuin of York, Letter 132, to Charlemagne, M.G.H., Ep. Kar. Aevi, vol. II, p. 199.

[26] Dorothy Bethurun, “Regnum and sacerdotium in the early eleventh century”, in Peter Clemoes and Kathleeen Hughes (eds.), England before the Conquest, Cambridge University Press, 1971, p. 133.

[27] Archbishop Wulfstan, “The Sermon of ‘Wolf’ to the English”, in Michael Swanton, Anglo-Saxon Prose, London: Dent, 1975, pp. 118, 119.

[28] Eleanor Duckett, Saint Dunstan of Canterbury, London: Collins, 1955, p. 108.

[29] The stone upon which King Aethelred was crowned can still be seen in the centre of Kingston (meaning, of course, “king’s stone”) in Surrey. So the root of true kingship, drenched in the true anointing chrism of the Orthodox monarchy, still exists in this land.

[30] William Stubbs, Memorials of St. Dunstan, Rolls series, 1874, pp. 356-357.

[31] Wulfstan, The Institutes of Polity, 4.

[32] Barlow, The English Church, 1000-1066, London: Longmans, 1979, p. 141.

[33] Dvorkin, Ocherki po Istorii Vselenskoj Pravoslavnoj Istorii (Sketches on the History of the Universal Orthodox Church), Nizhni- Novgorod, 2006, pp. 688, 690.

[34] Bogdanovich, “The Political Philosophy of Medieval Serbia”, in 1389-1989, Boj na Kosovu (The Battle of Kosovo), Belgrade, 1989, p. 16. St. Savva’s Zakonopravilo has only recently been published in full by Professor Miodrag M. Petrovich – not in Serbia, where the official hierarchy discouraged its publication, but in Greece.

[35] Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich, A Treasury of Serbian Orthodox Spirituality, Grays lake, Ill.: Free Serbian Diocese, 1988, pp. 23-24.

[36] Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich, “The Life of St. Sava”, in Sabrana Dela (Collected Works), volume 12, Khimelstir, 1984, pp. 573-574.

[37]Bogdanovich, op. cit., pp. 16-17.

[38]West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, Edinburgh: Canongate, 2006, pp. 892-893.

[39] Kliuchevsky, A Course in Russian History: The Seventeenth Century, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1994, p. 60.

[40] Montefiore, The Romanovs, London: Virago, 2016, p. 26.

[41]Metropolitan Philaret, Sochinenia (Works), 1848, vol. 2, p. 134; Pravoslavnaia Zhizn’ (Orthodox Life), 49, N 9 (573), September, 1997, p. 6.

[42]Lebedev, Velikorossia, St. Petersburg, 1999, p. 126.

[43]Solonevich, Narodnaia Monarkhia (Popular Monarchy), Minsk, 1998, pp. 82-83.

[44]St. John Maximovich, Proiskhozhdenie zakona o prestolonasledii v Rossii (The Origin of the Law of Succession in Russia), Podolsk, 1994, pp. 13, 43-45.

[45]Solonevich, op. cit., pp. 84, 85.

[46]Solonevich, op. cit., pp. 85-86.

[47]Solonevich, op. cit., p. 86.

[48]Solonevich, op. cit., p. 87.

[49]Brianchaninov, “Sud’by Bozhii” (The Judgements of God), Polnoe Sobranie Tvorenij (Complete Collection of Works), volume II, Moscow, 2001, p. 72.

[50]Brianchaninov, Pis’ma (Letters),Moscow, 2000, p. 781.

[51] Solonevich, op. cit., pp. 87-88, 89-90, 91-92.

[52]Metropolitan Philaret, Sochinenia (Works), 1861, vol. 3, pp. 322-323; Pravoslavnaia Zhizn’ (Orthodox Life), 49, N 9 (573), September, 1997, p. 9.

[53]Metropolitan Philaret, Sochinenia (Works), 1877, vol. 3, p. 442; Pravoslavnaia Zhizn’ (Orthodox Life), 49, N 9 (573), September, 1997, p. 5.

[54] Andreyev, “Pomazannik Bozhij” (“The Anointed of God”), Pravoslavnij Put’ (The Orthodox Way), 1951, p. 129.

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