The Paulicians, a heresy with Armenian roots flourished in the east of the Byzantine Empire in the 7th century and reached its high point in the 9th century under the leadership of Sergius. Persecuted by the Empire, the Paulicians fled to the Abbasid Caliphate, where their men gained a reputation for discipline and military valour. Under the command of Karbeas, Sergius' successor, the Paulicians joined the Arabs in their campaigns against Byzantium and set up their own mini-state round the fortress of Tephrike (present-day Divrigu, Turkey) on the boundary between the Caliphate and the Empire. Chrysocheiros, Karbeas' successor, continued the war in spite of the defeat at the River Halys in 863 and the subsequent weakening of the Caliphate and the borderland emirates. At first his raids were highly successful: his army ravaged Ephesus and beleaguered Nicomedia. Eventually, however, the power of Chrysocheiros was broken by Emperor Basil I. This article traces the transformation of the Paulicians from a peaceful religious community into a militant sect. Its adherents succeeded in creating their own state, and after losing Tephrike to the Empire, served as mercenaries in foreign armies. The article, which is based on medieval Greek and Armenian sources, addresses also the issue of the links between the Paulicians and the Tondrakeci, an Armenian sect which emerged in the Arab-controlled Armenia at about that time and has often been identified with the Paulicians.
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