Arsenius

, bishop of Constantinople, was called to the metropolitan see, from a private monastic life, in 1255, by the emperor Theodore Lascaris who, a little before his death, constituted him one of the guardians of his son John, an infant in the sixth year of his age. Arsenius was renowned for piety and simplicity but these afforded no security against the ambition and perfidy of the age. Michael Palseologus usurped the sovereignty and Arsenius at length, with reluctance, overpowered by the influence of the nobility, consented to place the diadem on his head, with this express condition, that he should resign the empire to the royal infant when he came to maturity. But after he had made this concession, he found his pupil treated with great disregard, and, probably repenting of what he had done, he retired from his see to a monastery. Sometime after, by a sudden revolution, Palaeologus recovered Constantinople from the Latins and amidst his successes, found it necessary to his reputation to recall the bishop, and he accordingly fixed him in the metropolitan see such was the ascendancy of Arsenius’s character. | Palaeologus, however, still dreaded the youth, whom he had so deeply injured and, to prevent him from recovering his throne, he had recourse to the barbarous policy of putting out his eyes. Arsenius hearing this, excommunicated the emperor, who then exhibited some appearance of repentance. But the bishop refused to admit him into the church, and Palaeologus meanly accused him of certain crimes before an assembly, over which he had absolute sway. Arsenius was accordingly condemned, and banished to a small island of the Propontis. Conscious of his integrity, he bore his sufferings with serenity and requesting that an account might be taken of the treasures of the church, he shewed that three pieces of gold, which he had earned by transcribing psalms, were the whole of his property. The emperor, after all this, solicited him to repeal his ecclesiastical censures, but he persisted in his refusal and, it is supposed, died in his obscure retreat. Gibbon, with his usual suspicions respecting the piety and virtue of an ecclesiastic, endeavours to lessen the character of this patriarch. 1

1

Cave. Du Pin. Milner’s Church Hist. vol. IV. p. 16.