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Policy towards the anti-unionists

he union of the Churches in 1274, which resulted from the foreign policy of Michael VIII, had divided the people of Byzantium into pro- and anti-unionists.One of the main goals, therefore, of the Byzantine emperor's domestic policy was to restore unity, and to achieve this he had to confront the various groups that opposed his policy of union.

Particularly strong was the opposition on the part of the monks, especially that of the group of monks of the eastern provinces, the nucleus of which was composed of Arsenites- supporters, that is, of Arsenios Autoreianos, the Patriarch who had been deposed by Michael VIII because of his opposition to the usurpation of the throne by Palaiologos. Their preachings appealed to the people, who could not easily forget the harshness of the Latin occupation, let alone ignore the dogmatic differences between the two Churches.

Michael VIII was quick to take action. In a tomos, formulated in February 1277 by the pro-unionist Patriarch, John XI Bekkos, and the Council of Constantinople, it was declared that the union of the Churches was accepted, while it also determined the penalties that would be imposed on all those who persisted in rejecting it. And punishment was carried out immediately. Many anti-unionists lost their property, were exiled or even blinded. Opposition did not cease, however, and together with the change in papal policy regarding union, contributed to its revocation shortly after Michael's death in 1282.