Historical Atlas of the Episcopal Sees of Central and Eastern Europe up to 787

From Evidence on the Field to Literary Utopia


Partenaires institutionnels

ANR AOROC - UMR8546-CNRS/ENS Ecole française d’Athènes Ecole française de Rome (EFR) HALMA Lille I Site Logo_Danubius Université de Lille


Dominic Moreau (Univ. Lille, HALMA), Christophe Batardy (AOrOc)

dominic.moreau@univ-lille.fr, christophe.batardy@ens.psl.eu

Participants in the Compilation of Data Relating to the Sites included in the Atlas

Dominic Moreau, Associate Professor (MCF) at the University of Lille, member of HALMA-UMR 8164 research centre (Univ. Lille, CNRS, MC) ; Radu Petcu, archaeologist at the Muzeul de Istorie Națională și Arheologie din Constanța (Romania) and postdoctoral fellow of the DANUBIUS Project (2019-2021) ; Mohamed-Arbi Nsiri, postdoctoral fellow of the DANUBIUS Project (2022) ; Hugo Freson, student intern of the DANUBIUS Project (2018) ; and Jérémy Soutif, student intern of the DANUBIUS Project (2019).

Preamble : Some Historical Issues of the Atlas

Within the Catholic and Orthodox hierarchies, there exists the concept of a titular bishop (a person ordained as a bishop, but with no effective territorial jurisdiction) [2]. According to the main studies on the question, this custom originates from an ancient canonical tradition, according to which a cleric should necessarily be attached to a Church, in the context of the abandonment of certain sees following the Muslim conquest of the Middle East, North Africa and Spain, between the years 630 and 720 [3]. The main argument for the effective invention of this titular function must be sought in the migrations/“invasions” of peoples who did not, a priori, have any particular interest in maintaining Christian institutions and structures as established by the Roman Empire. Nevertheless, could the phenomenon not have its origins earlier, possibly in Central and Eastern Europe, a region which was impacted more than any other in the Later Roman world by these population movements, at least from the 430s, with the capture of the Pannoniae by the Huns ?

This is a position indirectly defended currently by several of the Churches in the region, who base their current hierarchy on an ancient order which they assert never disappeared. When reading the official lists issued by the different Churches, the lists of titular bishops are effectively inscribed in an immutable order, the founding of an episcopal see making it, in a way, eternal [4]. However, the historical reality is somewhat different. Indeed, Antiquity does not seem to have known the concept of an episcopal dignity without a geographical jurisdiction. This particularity of the period can be observed in particular through the phenomenon of translationes, viz. the transfer of the office of a bishop from one place to another, the initial place then no longer being considered as a jurisdiction of that bishop. These “translations”, as they are called in English, were formally prohibited at first to avoid movements out of pure ambition (these remained an object of condemnation). Later, however, they were regulated by the imperial authorities, as a consequence of the evolution of the situation of the Empire between the 4th and 6th centuries [5].

In the period that interests us here, we know, for the centre and east of the European continent, several cases of translations of bishops from one see to another, the most famous of them being, obviously, that of Eusebius of Nicomedia, who, after having been bishop of Beirut (before 318), then of Nicomedia (before 318-337/9), was transferred to the see of Constantinople (337/9-341) [6]. Less “spectacular”, we also know, probably during the first quarter of the 5th century, the transfer of Perigenes from Patras to Corinth (Achaia), of Theodosebios from Apamea (Pisidia ?) to Eudoxiopolis/Selymbria (Europa), of Polycarpus/Polycarpos from Sexa(gi)nta Prista (Moesia Secunda) to Nicopolis ad Nestum (Rhodopes), as well as of Hierophilos from Trapezoupolis (Phrygia Pacatiana) to Plotinopolis (Haemimontus). The exact reason for most of these movements remains enigmatic to this day [7]. In three of these cases, Eudoxiopolis/Selymbria, Nicopolis ad Nestum and Plotinopolis, the arrival of a bishop from elsewhere coincides with the first attestation of the see and may even constitute its founding act. In addition, all the aforementioned “abandoned” sees have a life after the translation, except Sexa(gi)nta Prista which did not again welcome a bishop until 2001, the year of the creation of a bishopric of Russe, notably based on the existence of an episcopal see in this place at the time of Polycarpus/Polycarpos [8]. However, absolutely nothing indicates that the bishops of Nicopolis ad Nestum continued to retain the title of bishop of Sexa(gi)nta Prista.

Another line of thought, also at odds with the idea of the eternity of episcopal sees, suggests that the sources have left us the trace of only a single bishop for some places, as if those sees had been the result of an individual nomination. Even if we only know Polycarpus/Polycarpos for Sexa(gi)nta Prista, there is nothing to suggest that it is an example of a see created for a specific individual, given that he could have had predecessors as well as successors at Nicopolis ad Nestum. Indeed, Socrates of Constantinople, whose Ecclesiastical History was published around 439/40, at least before 450, mentions his translation, among others, without ever suggesting that the Nicopolitan see no longer existed in his time (cf . n. 7). We must rather turn to a case like Abrit(t)us (Moesia Secunda), which, according to the texts which have come down to us, had only a single bishop, Marcianus/Markianos, who does not seem not having participated in any translation whatsoever [9]. Belonging to the party of the Nestorians (Dyophysite current of Christianity relying on the ideas of Nestorius) at the Council of Ephesus of 431, he may well have been elevated to the position as bishop of Abrit(t)us at least partly for circumstantial reasons, to support the imperial position. We know that the ecclesiastical authorities had never hesitated to create episcopal sees from scratch in other situations of religious controversy, to tip the balance of one faction or another, as at the Conference of Carthage of 411 [10]. Marcianus/Markianos is last attested in 458, as dean of the bishops of Moesia Secunda. His see is not attested again at least until the mention of Abrit(t)us in a notitia episcopatuum Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, which is generally dated from the second half of the 8th century. Nevertheless, this mediaeval list of episcopal sees is, for the north of the Balkan peninsula, a document of a utopian nature, proposing an ideal hierarchy subject to the Patriarchate, because Constantinople had already lost control over the Lower Danube and was in fact on the verge of losing control throughout Thrace [11]. The process of the decline of Roman authority in central and eastern Europe certainly began with the loss of Dacia Traiana/Felix in the 270s, but the consequence for ecclesiastical organisation was only real with the invasion of the Pannoniae by the Huns in the years 420-430, since the Balkan episcopal network did not really develop before the end of the second quarter of the 4th century as shown in the map below (Fig. 1).

  • A.D. 300
  • A.D. 350

Fig. 1 : The Episcopal Sees in Central and Eastern Europe in 300 and 350.

In this context of gradual weakening of the imperial presence along the Danube, marked by a succession of losses and recoveries, until the middle of the 7th century, one can understand that the reestablishment of the episcopal system in its entirety, as it was in the 4th century and the 5th century, was not the priority of the Roman State, even the maintenance of the provinces along the river being problematic. The case of Dacia Ripensis is particularly equivocal. At the Council of Serdica of 343, it was represented by four sees : Ratiaria, Aquae, Castra Martis and Oescus. Ratiaria, attested in 340, is the only one of these sees which is attested in the following decades, viz. in 381. Then, we must jump ahead in time to find the ecclesiastical organisation of this province mentioned again in a source, more precisely in Justinian’s famous novella from 535. The novella announces the move—which probably never materialised—of the seat of the Praetorian Prefecture of Illyricum to the newly created city of Justiniana Prima (Dardania), as well as the suprametropolitan powers granted to its archbishop. The text mentions, in passing, the see of Aquae, which the emperor asked to be reestablished over the see of Meridium/Meridio (location unknown), which did not appear in the list of bishops present in Serdica [12]. In this document, the Church of Justiniana Prima is never presented as succeeding another, which demonstrates that it was possible to found new sees, ex nihilo, in the period concerned, a foundation which, however, totally disappears from the texts from 602. Furthermore, of all the sees of Dacia Ripensis attested in 343, only one (Meridium/Meridio) was reestablished in the 6th century (the state of the province perhaps did not allow it). Thus that see is fully recognised as an episcopal church not attested in any way before it is mentioned in the novella and also was not designated as the result of a translatio.

Nothing therefore proves that Antiquity cultivated the idea of the immutability of episcopal sees after their foundation. Such immutability which would have encouraged, if not the maintenance of a titular-type bishop (this is not a notion known before its invention in the Middle Ages), at least the restoration of the sees to their place of origin, whenever possible. At the time in question, apostolicity was the most significant element for the legitimacy of a Church [13], so that none of the sees which could claim an apostle as founder were likely to be perceived as a totally immovable and eternal institution. This does not, however, mean in any way that the prelates had the right to change the place of their sees at their discretion. With its episcopal network, the Later Roman Empire quite simply proceeded as it was accustomed to, that is to say, depending on the circumstances and contexts. As soon as The Empire took “control” of the Churches on its soil, the geography of the episcopal sees began to be modelled, obviously with some limits in certain cases, on the provincial civic organisation, following its disturbances and mutations, again more in regions where disturbances were numerous. Chief among these regions is Central and Eastern Europe, where sees appeared, were transferred and/or disappeared throughout Late Antiquity, up to the end of the period, and these phenomena (and others) are what this atlas attempts to illustrate.

Interactive Atlas

Precautions for the use for the Atlas :
> to move the view, the reader must use the scroll bar of the Chronocarto window on the right.
> to print a map (with the print button) the reader must first activate “print preview” .
> to return the map to the original scale (global view), the reader must click on the “Globe” button.
> the map legend is viewable by expanding the legend from the legend square.

Context and Methodology

The Historical Atlas of the Episcopal Sees of Central and Eastern Europe up to 787 is one of the many results of the DANUBIUS Project (https://danubius.huma-num.fr), supported by the University of Lille and the HALMA-UMR 8164 research centre (Univ. Lille, CNRS, MC), which was mainly funded by I-SITE ULNE Foundation (http://www.isite-ulne.fr) between 2018 and 2021, as well as by the French National Research Agency–ARN from 2018 to 2022 (https://anr.fr/Projet-ANR-18-CE27-0008). The objective of DANUBIUS, which entered a phase of mutation and expansion in 2023, is to study the interpenetration between Christianity and the Roman world in South-Eastern Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries, by focusing initially on the composition and functioning of the ecclesiastical organisation, as well as on the development of a Christian topography. The choice of temporal parameters was established by taking into consideration the widest possible limits among those accepted for Late Antiquity. The 8th century, to take only the terminus ante quem, is an important turning point, notably because of several dynastic changes which marked a real break with the past in the Mediterranean Basin (the Carolingians in Western Europe, the Isaurians in the Byzantine Empire and the Abbasids in the Middle East and part of North Africa). It was also during this century that there was a real reversal of balance in the Balkan peninsula, in favour of new political-military powers, primarily the Bulgarians. From the point of view of the history of Christianity, it is also the time of the last ecumenical council recognised as such by both Rome and Constantinople, the Council of Nicaea of 787, which is also the last document to suggest some kind of unity of the Church in Central and Eastern Europe around both the pope and the ecumenical patriarch. For all these reasons, then, the choice of this date was made as the limit for the present atlas.

Focusing, moreover, only on the provinces of the Lower Danube (Dacia Ripensis, Moesia Secunda and Scythia or eastern Serbia, northern Bulgaria and south-eastern Romania), as well as on the territory of current Crimea (Cherronesus/Chersonesus) for its preliminary phase, concluded at the end of 2022, the DANUBIUS project was mainly structured around the creation of two databases, one for archaeological and epigraphic sources, the other for prosopography, this last as the first step in the constitution of the Balkan volumes of the Prosopographie chrétienne du Bas-Empire. These two interoperational databases will, ultimately, be accessible to researchers, as well as linked to a web GIS model whose deployment is entrusted to Chronocarto. The geo-referencing of objects, buildings, inscriptions and characters was accompanied by the compilation of a large database of sites, which was intended to be analytical from the outset, in the sense that the status of the sites was taken into account, including the status of episcopal sees, together with their duration of attestation in the texts. For this specific part of the work, the principal investigator (PI) of DANUBIUS, Dominic Moreau, decided to go beyond the Lower Danubian framework and to anticipate the entire territory envisaged for the continuation of the project, viz. Central and Eastern Europe in its whole : from the east of present-day Switzerland and the south-east of Germany (Eastern Raetia) to Krasnodar Krai in Russia (Bosphorus Cimmerius and Zechia/Zichia), and (from north to south) from the western part of the Danube (Raetia, Noricum and Pannonia) and the northern part of the Transylvanian plateau (Dacia Traiana/Felix) to Crete. From there was born the idea of producing, in parallel with the other works of DANUBIUS, a historical and interactive atlas of episcopal sees throughout this area, which is currently available in five maps, but which is intended to evolve even further in the future.

Location of Historically attested Episcopal Sees

Map 1 (open in a new window)

This first map allows us to visualise in diachrony all the sees attested by written sources until 787, throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Some preliminary observations : the distribution is not homogeneous throughout the territory, its northern part, which was also less urbanised in the Roman era, having included fewer episcopal sees than its south ; the European Greek world (Greece strictly speaking, but also Macedonia and Epirus), as well as South-Eastern Thrace are clearly the regions where the density of episcopal sees was the greatest during the first eight centuries AD.

The user can choose to use this map in two ways : either over the entire region studied or at the scale of one or more provinces. In the first case, a colour code is used for each of the provinces of Late Antiquity, as at the beginning of the 5th century, because that is when they attained their definitive form, viz. before the loss of the Pannoniae in the years 420-430. In the second case, each province can be isolated, this time without a specific colour code, which allows the reader to reconstitute, in particular, previous provinces (for example, to select Moesia Secunda as well as Scythia, in order to discover the territory of Moesia Inferior). The diachronic choice has the drawback of suggesting a moment during which all of the sees presented existed at the same time, which is obviously inaccurate (cf. supra, preamble). Each point is, however, associated with an info sheet which gives, in particular, the approximate attestation period (starting/ending). The proposed base maps—(1) the provinces of the Roman Empire in 192 and (2) those in Late Antiquity, (3) topography on a gray and white background as well as (4) boundaries of contemporary states—allow several levels of analysis.

Chronology of Historically attested Episcopal Sees

Map 1bis (open in a new window)

To avoid the false illusion that the diachronic display of Map 1 can cause, Map 1bis suggests inserting the data from the previous one in a chronological approach. Here, the colours associated with the provinces disappear (perhaps it will prove necessary to add them in the long term) in favour of a single colour. A scroll bar allows a display of each see by increments of 50 years and by major councils (those considered by tradition to be ecumenical, to which is added that of Serdica). In addition, an animation, in the form of a complementary document, allows the reader to follow the chronology of the existence of attested episcopal sees, year by year. Even if this chronology begins in the 1st century, it should obviously be noted that the reality of the mono-episcopal model, therefore the institution of bishops as we understand them today, only became established at the end of the 2nd century or the beginning of the 3rd century. For the first two centuries, the idea was rather to put forward the Paleochristian Churches, which later became episcopal sees strictly speaking, so as to place them in a continuity, in this apostolicity which was so dear to the Ancients (cf. supra, preamble).

Location of the Episcopal Sees whose Historical Attestation is Probable Despite their Disappearance in the Texts

Map 2 (open in a new window))

Taking up the same functionalities and criteria which characterise Map 1, but also reproducing the same issues linked to diachrony, Map 2 focuses on the difficult problem of the absolute value of texts in the study of episcopal sees. To summarise with a simple question : did a see which ceases to be explicitly attested at a certain point in the sources necessarily no longer exist ? This map thus presents a selection of sees which, from a precise moment before 787, are no longer mentioned in texts other than the notitiae episcopatuum. This selection was established in full consideration of the historical context, in the sense that this map presents all the sees which ceased to be attested in texts other than the said notitiae, but for which there is little reason to believe that they would have effectively disappeared on the ground, particularly when there are formal attestations of their existence again in the 9th century.

Location of Uncertain Episcopal Sees, attested Only by Mediaeval or Unreliable Sources

Map 3 (open in a new window)

Also relying on the same elements as Map 1, Map 3 illustrates uncertain sees, because they are only attested by mediaeval or unreliable sources. Unlike Map 2, the sees listed here do not fall into the category of those which are historically attested. For example, we discover an important network in the province of Scythia, around which a whole historical and theological development has emerged in the literature in recent years, particularly in the context of the interpretation of archaeological discoveries [14]. However, the problem with these Scythian sees is that they are only mentioned in a notitia episcopatuum Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae which is generally dated to the second half of the 8th century and whose interpretation is extremely complex (cf. n. 11), but which, in any case, cannot present a state of the situation at the time of its composition, because the entirety of Dobruja was then under the control of the Bulgarians and no episcopal hierarchy formally existed in their empire at the time, especially not a hierarchy attached to Constantinople. To deal with the problem, those who support the existence of a developed network of sees in Scythia, other than the Church of Tomis alone, affirm (to summarise their demonstration too succinctly) on the one hand, that the action of Justinian proves that seats may have been created ex nihilo in the 6th century (cf. supra, preamble) and, on the other hand, that the notitia concerned was likely the witness of an older source, relying, for this precise point, on no other argument than its resemblance to Hierocles’ Synecdemus. Why couldn’t it be simply this Synecdemus which would have served as a source for the 8th-century text ? In any case, the present atlas has opted to rather leave room for doubt, by integrating these Scythian sees into the category of those which are uncertain, not to say “very uncertain”. Therefore, this map cannot be considered as historical. It is rather a utopian geographical representation, with regard to the objectives pursued by the ancient and mediaeval authors on w hom we rely. We thus prefer to speak here of utopia and uncertainty, rather than of pure and simple invention, because the “attested” rubs shoulders with the “unattested” in these same documents, including in the aforementioned 8th century notitia. Nevertheless, the discovery of new sources, particularly epigraphic ones, could contradict an overly categorical judgment on the sources in question.

Historical Attestation of the Duration of the Episcopal Sees

Map 4 (open in a new window)

The fourth and last map is, unlike the others, purely analytical in nature. It too is diachronic, but in this specific case there is no illusion of an anachronism, because it is precisely the duration of historical attestation that is displayed. Obviously, the size of the circles used expresses an approximation to within a few decades and not an exact value per year, this level of detail cannot be achieved at the scale used. The aim of the experiment here is to offer a first cartographic analysis of the recorded data other than their sole geographical presentation. The format still needs to be refined, but we can notice, apart from a clearly longer attestation period, more episcopal sees in the south of the Balkan peninsula and on the Adriatic coast than in the rest of the area, which is obviously explained by the migrations/invasions in the Danubian world and in the central Balkans, for which some downloadable documents offer statistics relating to the data presented. We learn in particular that 50% of the sees were created between 343 and 531, which is hardly surprising, and that 50% of the total are no longer attested after 499, which means that half could have come to an end before this date, if the notion of historical attestation is obviously to be associated with that of existence. In addition, the average attestation duration of the sees is 71 years, 25% being attested only over a single year and 25% over more than two and a half centuries, the remaining 50% being in the interval. Since everything here is linked solely to historical attestations, none of this is obviously exact science. However, we can still deduce that there is a particular moment of development for central and eastern Europe in terms of episcopal sees, which is between the middle of the 4th century and the second quarter of the 5th century. After this period, efforts focused on saving and strengthening what had been acquired.

The stability of the episcopal system is also observable especially in the Greek world and in the south-east of Thrace, not only because urbanisation there was of longer standing and therefore more stable and denser, but also because this whole area continued to be part of the Empire after the loss of the rest of the Balkans (first to the Slavs and Avars, then to the Proto-Bulgarians). Still on the scale of central and eastern Europe, it was also in its southern part that Christianity was first established, initially in towns located on or not far from the coasts. It was from these same cities, as well as from North-Eastern Italy, that the new religion and its institutions spread. It was the coasts that were first affected by Christianisation, from Istria to Crimea, before it entered the hinterland. The former legion camps and other military cantonments along the Danube and in its immediate hinterland, transformed into fortified towns in late Antiquity, thus almost all ultimately became bishoprics, as Christianity was propagated along the course of the river. The creation of such an episcopal network in Central and Eastern Europe, however, only occurred after the affirmation of a true Imperial Church, whose hierarchy would be modelled on the Roman provincial model, at the Council of Nicaea in 325. The organisation of another council, which was initially intended to be ecumenical, at Serdica in 343, also helped strengthen the system on a regional scale. The apogee of that system should be placed, as mentioned previously, between the middle of the 4th century and the second quarter of the 5th century. After this date, a series of events, beginning with the loss of the Pannoniae at the hands of the Huns in the 430s are linked to the progressive reduction of the episcopal presence, as a consequence of the loss of territories by the Empire. There was indeed an attempt under Justinian (527-565) to regain a footing, which was accompanied by the creation of new episcopal sees (for example, Justiniana Prima) or the reestablishment of old ones, but the losses could not be stopped. In the middle of the 8th century, the network of Byzantine bishoprics in Central and Eastern Europe only covered the south of the Balkan peninsula. However, a new episcopal organisation was being born to the west of our territory, in the same Pannoniae which had been lost three centuries earlier, an organisation linked this time to a new imperial power in the making, that of the Franks. Furthermore, the same populations who had put an end to the Church in the Balkans would, a century later, convert massively under the leadership of Boris I of Bulgaria (852-889/93), which would lead ultimately to the creation of a completely new ecclesiastical hierarchy in the region, sometimes relying on the old reality, sometimes wanting to be perfectly original.

Other Development Prospects

In addition to all the developments envisaged in later versions of the atlas, we can mention the idea of a map of seats which are historically attested but which have not been located to date. The list has already been drawn up and it contains no less than 43 seats. However, it is a real challenge to find a way to adequately represent this data on a map. We could certainly make proportion circles for each province, which would provide the information with a simple click. How, however, can we locate the seats for which we have the choice between the dioceses of Dacia and Pannonia/Illyricum, without further details ? Solutions are already being studied. If they prove conclusive, they could be integrated into the next version of the atlas.


Information associated with Each Episcopal See

SITE_SOURCE : Internal database number
SITE_NAME : Name of the site in Greek and/or Latin (imperial foundations are only in Latin)
MAIN_CITY : Modern name of the site (nearest city, in some cases)
LONGITUDE : Longitude
LATITUDE : Latitude
STARTING : Year of first attestation
ENDING : Year of last attestation
DURATION : Difference between the year of last attestation and the year of first attestation
COMMENTS : Comments and additional bibliographical reference (only when necessary)
TRISMEGISTOS : Reference in : https://www.trismegistos.org
FEDALTO_OR : Reference in : G. Fedalto, Hierarchia ecclesiastica Orientalis. Series episcoporum Ecclesiarum Christianarum Orientalium, Padua, 1988.
FEDALTO_SU : Reference in : G. Fedalto, Hierarchia ecclesiastica Orientalis. Series episcoporum Ecclesiarum Christianarum Orientalium, vol. 3, Padua, 2006.
FEDALTO_CA : Reference in : G. Fedalto, Hierarchia Catholica usque ad saecula XIII-XIV, sive, Series episcoporum Ecclesiae Catholicae, Padua, 2012.
PROVINCE : Name of the Late Antique province

[1D. Moreau wants to thank the École française de Rome, where he was a visiting scholar for a period of 10 months (01/09/2022-30/06/2023), when these lines were written. Moreover, both authors want to thank Laure Laüt, who graciously allowed us to use the base map of her CASTOR Project, for the provinces in 192 (https://www.chronocarto.eu/spip.php?article92&lang=fr).

[2For a concise definition of the concept (even if only for the Catholic context), see B. Barbiche, “Évêque”, in B. Ardura (dir.), with the collab. of E. Tawill, P. Piatti and B. Doisneau, Dictionnaire d’histoire de l’Église, Paris, 2022, p. 401.

[3Inter alia, see T. C. Anslow, “Titular bishops as an institution according to the Annuario Pontificio”, The Jurist, 58 (1998), pp. 125, 127-130 and 133-137 (the case of strictly honorary precedence of certain sees, which is mentioned in this paper, however, has no link with the question of bishops who are described as “titular”) ; A. Viana, “Obispos titulares. Elementos de tradición canónica y regulación actual”, Ius canonicum, 44/88 (2004), pp. 516-518.

[4For example, see Annuario pontificio per l’anno 2022, Cité du Vatican, 2022, pp. 821-1003.

[5See R. Naz, “Translation d’office”, in Id. (dir.), Dictionnaire de droit canonique contenant tous les termes du droit canonique avec un Sommaire de l’Histoire et des institutions et de l’état actuel de la discipline, vol. 7 : Placentin-Zype (Van den), Paris, 1958-65, coll. 1320-1325.

[6It was previously said that, in the context of translations, “the initial place then [was] no longer … considered as a jurisdiction of that bishop”. For Eusebius, whom ancient sources generally present as the most obvious case of episcopal translatio by ambition, his situation vis-à-vis Nicomedia after his elevation to Constantinople could constitute an exception to the rule, in the sense that we do not have evidence of an immediate successor in the sources and that he retained real control over the region, therefore, probably, over his Church too. The return of Amphion, bishop of Nicomedia between 325 and 328, before being expelled, is not actually attested before 343/4. See Hilary of Poitiers, Collectanea antiariana Parisina A, IV, 1 (ed. A. Feder, S. Hilarii episcopi Pictaviensis opera, vol. 4 : Tractatus mysteriorum / Collectanea antiariana Parisina (fragmenta historica) cum appendice (liber I ad Constantium) / Liber ad Constantium imperatorem (liber II ad Constantium) / Hymni / Fragmenta minora / Spuria, Vienne/Leipzig, 1916 [Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 65], p. 48).

[7Socrates Scholasticus, Historia ecclesiastica VII, xxxvi, 9 and 17-19 (ed. G. C. Hansen, Sokrates, Kirchengeschichte, Berlin, 1995 [Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte. Neue Folge 1], pp. 386-387).

[8See the official website of the bishopric of Ruse : https://www.rusenska-mitropolia.bg/история/ (on which the episcopate of Polycarpus is placed arbitrarily between 370 and 380, and which ignores the translation to Nicopolis ad Nestum), while we must most probably favour the first two decades of the 5th century, with regard to the dates of the other episcopates mentioned by Socrates of Constantinople, in the same section. Cf. n. 7.

[9See D. Moreau and J.-P. Carrié, “L’agglomération romaine d’Abritus (Mésie inférieure/Mésie seconde) : sources textuelles et bilan archéologique”, in C. Freu, S. Janniard and A. Ripoll (eds.), Libera curiositas. Mélanges d’histoire romaine et d’Antiquité tardive offerts à Jean-Michel Carrié, Paris, 2016 (Bibliothèque de l’Antiquité tardive), pp. 235-236.

[10It is not a question here of the effective nature or otherwise of these sees, but rather of the possibility of episcopal creation if necessary, at the beginning of the 5th century. For the case of the Carthaginian council of 411, cf. inter alia S. Lancel, Actes de la Conférence de Carthage en 411, vol. 1, Paris, 1972 (Sources chrétiennes 194), pp. 118-143.

[11Notitiae episcopatuum Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae III, 608 (ed. J. Darrouzès, Notitiae episcopatuum Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, Paris, 1981 [Géographie ecclésiastique de l’Empire byzantin 1], p. 241). On this notitia, see inter alia J. Darrouzès, op. cit., pp. 20-33 ; E. S. Kountoura-Galake, “Η "Εικονοκλαστική" Notitia 3 και το λατινικό της πρότυπο”, Σύμμεικτα 10 (1996), pp. 45-73 ; B. Moulet, Évêques, pouvoir et société à Byzance (VIIIe-XIe siècle). Territoires, communautés et individus dans la société provinciale byzantine, Paris, 2011 (Byzantina Sorbonensia 25), pp. 45-46 ; I. Basić, “O dataciji "ikonoklastičkog" popisa biskupija Carigradske crkve (Notitia episcopatuum ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae 3) s osobitim obzirom na Tračku dijecezu”, in A. Cedilnik and M. Lovenjak (eds.), Na obzorju novega. Območje severnega Jadrana ter vzhodnoalpski in balkansko-podonavski prostor v obdobju pozne antike in zgodnjega srednjega veka. Posvečeno Rajku Bratožu ob njegovi sedemdesetletnici, Ljubljana, 2022, pp. 285-313 ; D. Moreau, “To Baptise in Late Antiquity – An Unfounded Episcopal Prerogative. Some Remarks Inspired by the "Scythian" Case”, Rivista di archeologia cristiana 98/1 (2022), pp. 100-102. Anecdotally, it is interesting to note that the Catholic hierarchy retains Abrit(t)us as the see of a titular bishop, placing it vaguely around Dobrich, while the modern city is Razgrad (Bulgaria). See Annuario pontificio…cit. (n. 4), p. 824.

[12Nouellae Iustiniani XI (ed. R. Schöll and G. Kroll, Corpus Iuris Civilis, vol. 3, 6th ed., Berlin, 1954, p. 94). See also I. Gargano and D. Moreau, “Some Remarks on the Christian Topography of Dacia Ripensis (Second Half of the 5th-6th Century)”, in I. Topalilov and Z. Gerdzhikova (eds.), Creation of the Late Antique World in the Balkans. Proceedings of the Colloquium held in Sofia, November, 8-10, 2018, Sofia, 2021 (Annales Balcanici, 1), pp. 231-244.

[13E. Ferguson, “Apostolic Succession”, in Id. (dir.), Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, 2nd ed., New York/London, 1997, pp. 94-95. See also R. Trevijano, “Apostolicity”, in A. Di Berardino (dir.), with the collab. of T. C. Oden, J. C. Elowsky and J. Hoover, Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity, trad. angl. J. T. Papa, E. A. Koenke and E. E. Hewett, Downers Grove, 2014, pp. 200-201.

[14On this topic, see D. Moreau, “To Baptise ... ” cit. (n. 11).