Zealots(redirected from zealot)
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a political group in the 1340’s in Thessalonica (in the Byzantine Empire).
The Zealot movement arose during the intense struggle between the Constantinople government of Alexius Apocaucus, who was pursuing a policy of centralization of the state, and the feudal aristocracy, headed by John Cantacuzenus. The well-to-do merchants and the upper strata of the artisans made up the bulk of the Zealots, and sailors were the main armed force. Michael and Andrew, members of the aristocratic house of the Paleologui, were at the group’s head. The metropolitan Hyacinth sided with the Zealots, who supported the Constantinople government.
In 1342, after receiving military aid from Apocaucus, the Zealots seized power in the city with the support of the populace and expelled the feudal aristocracy from Thessalonica. From 1343 to 1345, the Zealots’ influence on the urban lower classes fell somewhat (apparently, the policy of the representatives of the prosperous strata did not meet the interests of the poorest part of the population). After the murder in Constantinople of Apocaucus in 1345 as the result of a coup, power in Thessalonica passed to the feudal aristocracy, who, after killing Michael Paleologus, decided to hand over the city to Cantacuzenus. The people, filled with indignation, slaughtered the feudal aristocracy in the summer of 1345. The Zealots again took possession of the city. After Cantacuzenus’ seizure of the Byzantine capital in 1347, the Zealots refused to recognize the new Constantinople government or to accept as metropolitan Gregory Palamas (who supported Cantacuzenus). In 1349, the Zealots’ movement was suppressed, and Cantacuzenus occupied Thessalonica.
The uprisings of the Zealots were an attempt by the wellto-do urban strata to alter the social system of the Byzantine city, to take power from the feudal lords, and to increase the role of the urban elite in the political life of the state. The causes for the failure of the Zealots’ movement include the weakness of the urban class in Byzantium and the intervention of Serbia and the Ottoman Turks to aid Cantacuzenus.
In Byzantine studies, questions about the Zealots’ social structure, their program, their relations with the plebeian masses, and their ties with the peasantry and with the Italian cities remain open to discussion. Until the end of the 1950’s, Byzantine scholars considered the works of Nicolas Cabasilas to be the basic source for the study of the Zealots’ program. In reality, these works throw light on later events having no bearing on the Zealots.
REFERENCESBerger, A. “Demokraticheskaia revoliutsiia v Vizantii v XIV v.” In Arkhiv K. Marksa i F. Engel’sa, book 5. Moscow-Leningrad, 1930.
Verner, E. “Narodnaia eres’ ili dvizhenie za sotsial’no-politicheskie reformy?” In the collection Vizantiiskii vremennik, [vol.] 17, Moscow-Leningrad, 1960.
Siuziumov, M. la. “K voprosu o kharaktere vystupleniia zilotov v 1342–1349 gg.” Vizantiiskii vremennik, [vol.] 28. Moscow, 1968.
Kurbatov, G. L., and V. I. Rutenburg. “Ziloty i chompi.” Vizantiiskii vremennik, [vol.] 30. Moscow, 1969.
Ševčenko, I. “Nicolas Cabasilas’ ‘Anti-Zealot.’” Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 1957, vol. 11.
M. IA. SIUZIUMOV
supporters of a sociopolitical and religioeschatological tendency that emerged in Judea in the second half of the first century B.C. and that became a well-defined movement in the early first century A.D. under Judah the Galilean. The zealots, supported by the lower and to some extent the middle classes, were the most consistent enemies of Roman power and the ruling Jewish classes. The zealots, with supporters of the extremely radical Sicarite movement, were the leaders of the rebels in the Jewish War of 66-73 A.D.
REFERENCESRanovich, A. B. “Sotsial’naia revoliutsiia v ludee v 66–73 gg.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1937, no. 1.
Livshits, G. M. Klassovaia bor’ba v ludee i vosstaniia protiv Rima. Minsk, 1957.
Hengel, M. Die Zeloten: Untersuchungen zur jüdischen Freiheitsbewegung in der Zeit von Herodes I bis 70 n. Chr. Leiden-Cologne, 1961.