Michael Cerularius

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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That's because, in 1054, Michael Cerularius, the patriarch of Constantinople, cut ties with the western church over bitter disputes with the Latin pope.
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It was over this charge that Michael Cerularius closed the western churches in Constantinople and in 1054 brought the Latin delegation to the capital to see what could be done to have them reopened.
The notion that the Roman church could dominate again in South Italy enraged the headstrong Patriarch Michael Cerularius, who in 1053 started a dogmatic polemic against Latin customs (the filioque clause in the creed-Father, Son and Holy Spirit-, the use of unleavened bread, etc) which Pope Leo IX (1048-1054) tried to impose in the area.
Tensions were running so high that year that Pope Leo IX and Patriarch Michael Cerularius excommunicated each other, formally ripping open the divide between the Roman and Orthodox churches.
It was later taken up by the Patriarch of Constantinople Michael Cerularius in 1054 as the banner of opposition to the Roman west.