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All these nationalities were integrated into the Byzantine state, whose official and everyday languages were both Greek and Latin until the 6th c., then just Greek. Christianity was Byzantium’s dominant religion in every period, in the form established by the Councils of Nicaea 325 and Chalcedon 451. The councils condemned deviations in Christology, under which were often concealed the separatist tendencies of the peoples annexed to the empire; particular separate churches were formed under various circumstances. Justinian fought against the remains of paganism by state repression; the veneration of saints, the cult of relics and other religious practices were purified of any residual anti-Christian form. Church and ecclesiastical structure were grafted completely onto the state apparatus and were thus closely tied to the ruling class. Ecuador Map This amalgam did not eliminate conflicts between emperor and patriarch, however, or between state officials and clergy. Various forms of monasticism, as well as sects inimical to the church, esp. the Paulicians in the mid-7th c., arose to denounce the abandonment of early Christian ideals.

The iconoclastic struggle penetrated deeply into the life of the people, in whom the cult of icons had long been rooted. Esp. in the 9th and 10th c. the Byzantine church fostered an intensive mission, coordinated with the empire’s foreign policy. It came into competition with similar papal attempts and was unsuccessful in the kingdom of Great Moravia, but successful in Byzantium itself, in Bulgaria and in Russia. The universalistic pretensions of the two churches led to the clash with Rome, the schism of 807 and the definitive break of 1054, which has perpetuated the division between the two churches until our times. The Byzantine tradition survives in the Russian, Romanian, Serbian, Macedonian, Bulgarian and Greek churches, but also in the Eastern and national churches of the Caucasus.

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