Michael Cerularius

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Michael Cerularius


Born circa 1000; died 1058 in Chersonesus Thracica. Patriarch of Constantinople from 1043 to 1058. A member of a family belonging to the high-ranking bureaucracy in Constantinople.

Michael Cerularius was one of the organizers of a plot in 1040 against the Byzantine emperor Michael IV; after the failure of the plot, he was exiled and made a monk. Under Emperor Constantine IX he became patriarch. He strove to elevate the role of the Constantinople patriarchate and defended the church’s autonomy against imperial authority. In 1057 he compelled the emperor to renounce the right to appoint several of the higher officials in the church.

Michael refused to recognize the supremacy of the pope in Rome and closed churches and monasteries in Constantinople that were subordinate to papal authority. He struggled against the Roman curia for control of the clergy in former Byzantine possessions in southern Italy. In 1054 the Roman legate, Cardinal Humbert, excommunicated Michael, and he in turn anathematized Humbert. Michael’s conflict with the papacy was one of the most important steps in the separation of the Eastern and Western churches.

Michael aided Emperor Isaac Comnenus in his ascent to the throne in 1057. However, their relations were strained when the emperor confiscated part of the monastic lands. In late 1058, Michael was arrested and sent into exile.


Skabalanovich, N. Vizantiiskoe gosudarstvo i tserkov’ v XI v. St. Petersburg, 1884. Pages 374–90.
Michel, A. Humbert und Kerullarios, vols. 1–2. Paderborn, 1925–30.