Armenian sect whose state was centered at Tephrike in northeastern Cappadocia. It flourished briefly from ca. 843, until Byzantine forces stormed it in 878, establishing on its ruins first a kleisoura, then a theme. What is known about Paulician doctrine is that it embraced Iconoclasm. Paulician beliefs may have had roots in ancient Manichaeanism.
The Paulicians represented an Eastern dualistic religious sect, one of the chief branches of Manichaeism, which had been founded in the third century A.D. by Paul of Samosata and reformed in the seventh century. Living in Asia Minor, on the eastern border of the Empire, and firmly adhering to their doctrine, they sometimes caused grave trouble to the Byzantine government by their warlike energy. One of the familiar methods of Byzantine internal policy was to transport various nationalities from one place to another; for example, the Slavs were moved to Asia Minor and Armenians to the Balkan Peninsula. The Paulicians also had been transported in great numbers from the eastern border to Thrace in the eighth century by Constantine V Copronymus, as well as in the tenth century by John Tzimisces. The city of Philippopolis in the Balkan Peninsula became the center of the Paulicians. Tzimisces, by settling the eastern colony in the vicinity of that city, succeeded first in removing the stubborn sectarians from their strongholds and castles on the eastern border, where it was very difficult to manage them, and also he hoped that in their new settlement the Paulicians would serve as a strong bulwark against the frequent invasions of the northern “Scythian” barbarians. In the tenth century the Paulician doctrine had been carried into Bulgaria by the reformer of that doctrine, Pope Bogomile, after whom the Byzantine writers named his followers Bogomiles. From Bulgaria the Bogomile doctrine later passed into Serbia and Bosnia, and then into western Europe, where the followers of the eastern dualistic doctrine bore different names: Patarins in Italy, Cathari in Germany and Italy, Poblicans (i.e. Paulicians) and Albigensians in France.
Epic romance, whose setting is the Byzantine- Arab frontier, written in the second half of the 11th century (or in the 12th century). The poem derives from a previous oral tradition (ninth or 10th century in date) about a legendary hero named Basil who is subsequently called Digenes Akritas. Digenes means “born of two peoples,” for in the poem Basil’s father is said to have been an Arab emir, and his mother the daughter of a Byzantine general of the Doukas family. An akritas was an inhabitant of the eastern frontier (that included Cappadocia and the region between Samosata and Melitene). Much of the story concerns Basil’s exploits along this frontier. In the poem his fame reaches the emperor, who rides to the Euphrates River to honor him. Some of Digenes’s foes have been identified as leaders of the heretical Paulicians. Emir Monsour, for example, his father in the tale, must refer to the real-life Omar of Melitene, an ally of the Paulicians. In the description of Digenes’s palace (including its ceilings covered in glittering mosaic with scenes from Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, from the life of Alexander the Great, and from the Old Testament), one gains an understanding of how splendid were the residences of wealthy landowners (the dynatoi) in Asia Minor. When the poem was written (during the half century or so after the Seljuk victory at Mantzikert) such families had already left the eastern frontier for more secure surroundings at the Byzantine court in Constantinople. Thus, the poem can be viewed as a romantic retrospective of the recent past.