The main purpose of this paper is to gather all the available evidence on the elections of bishops in Egypt in the 5th and 7th centuries. No attempt at exhaustive research in this domain has ever been undertaken in the past; many sources have been neglected up to now. From the evidence collected by the author it appears that two factors were decisive in shaping the peculiar character of episcopal elections in Egypt: (1) the extremely large power of the bishop of Alexandria, which gave him the exclusive right to choose the men to be ordained for all the sees of Egypt, whereas outside Egypt the bishop for a given see was elected by the clergy, the notables and the people of the town and by the bishops of the neighbouring towns; (2) the Christological controversies that caused the rise of two patriarchates in Alexandria, belonging to two dogmatic camps, as well as - since the reign of Justinian - the rise of two parallel hierarchies in Egypt, one Monophysite and one Chalcedonian. Special attention has been given in this paper to the sources concerning Alexandria, in order to establish what the ecclesiastical and social forces were that played a role inthe election of the patriarch. This makes it possible to understand that the ways in which the emperor intervened in this process were much more complicated and subtle than previously thought.
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