1993 | 48 |
Article title

Armia w greckich Historiach Kościoła IV-VI wieku

Title variants
The Army in the Opinion of the Greek Church Histories of the 4th-6th Centuries
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The basic problem of this article limits itself to the question: How did the Greek Church historians of the 4th-6th centuries (Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodorct and Evagrius) show the role and the place of the army in the East Roman Empire and what was their opinion about the army? The Church historians noticed that the army was a power which often instituted emperors as the rulers and was a support to their rule. The army very often participated in acclamations of the emperors in the 4th century, seldom in the next ones. The Church historians were the opinion that such a participation was a matter of course but they did not go too deeply into the army’s motives. They did not discuss either what impelled soldiers to support the usurpers. In the Church Histories we cannot find much information about the relationships between the emperors and the army but from the Histories it appears that these relationships were closer in the 4th century than there were in the later period, as the emperors more and more frequently resigned a command of the army. On the other hand the historians noticed the menace in the presence of the barbarian military troops in the Empire and noted an increase of the army’s insubordination, especially in the second part of the 6th century. The army was not only a power fighting against foreign enemies but also an instrument in the emperors’ hands in their domestic policy. The Church historians mentioned some events when the military troops had been used to suppress the revolts of the people or to pacify the cities. The historians paid much more attention to te cases of using the army in the religion policy. At the beginning of the 4th century the soldiers took part in the persecutions of the Christians. Then, when the emperors had become Christians themselves and had endeavoured after the religion unification of the Empire, the soldiers were used to remove the heretical bishops and to intervene if such cases had given rise to disturbances. The army also enforced the religious laws, e.g. the soldiers took churches from the heretics, dispersed their masses etc. The historians did not contest the emperors’ right to use the army in such cases. However the orthodox historians noted such a policy rather in the case of the Arian emperors, e.g. Constantius II and Valens. Also the historians described the brutality of the soldiers and their violence. One should noticed that the bishops also started to avail of the army against heretics and pagans. The references of the Church historians to the religions attitude of the army and the emperors’ religious policy in relation to the army were noticed in the article as well. Summing up one can say that the Church historians’ opinions about the army had a conventional character. In their opinion the army was a powerful force in the Empire and it executed many functions. But it was the force that had not an individual character and existed outside the society.
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