Vishnyak Mikhail

Participation of women in the Arsenite schism (1265 – 1310)

Vishnyak Mikhail (2018) "Participation of women in the Arsenite schism (1265 – 1310) ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia II : Istoriia. Istoriia Russkoy Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi, 2018, vol. 83, pp. 48-58 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturII201883.48-58


Based on the works of patriarch St. Athanasius I of Constantinople (1289–1293, 1303–1309) and some other sources, this paper deals with the participation of women in the Arsenite schism (1265–1310). There are three main roles of women in the schism: 1) The role of high patronesses as well as mothers and educators of new members. A typical example is the sister of Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologos, Maria- Marfa, mother of Ioannes Tarchaneiotes and grandmother of Alexios Philanthropenos, the two distinguished Arsenites. 2) The role of ordinary participants, which was, mainly, a passive position in the schism and participation in the creation of informational and propagandistic background. 3) The “charismatic” role of active participants in liturgical life, performers of rituals and sacraments; this is the most extraordinary and least documented role of women in the Arsenite movement. It demonstrates clearly the processes of degeneration of a church schism into a para-Christian sect. This duty of women in the Arsenite schism has probably no connection with the “custom of the deaconesses”, which was liquidated by Patriarch Athanasius I.


Arsenite schism, Arsenites, patriarch Athanasius I of Constantinople, antischismatic literature, woman in Byzantine Empire, woman in church, female priesthood, deaconess, parachristianity


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Information about the author

Vishnyak Mikhail

Student status: Graduate student;
Place of study: Moscow Theological Academy; Troitse-Sergieva Lavra, Sergiev Posad 141300, Russian Federation;
ORCID: 0000-0003-3354-9553;
Email: gweharall@gmail.com.