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Though the self-presentation of the Holy Mountain as a bastion of Orthodoxy and implacable foe of church union is in some respects justified, popes and western rulers in fact played an important, and not always a hostile, role in the history of Mount Athos. Some of the founding figures of Athonite monasticism had Roman connections, and there were even periods in which the monasteries of Mount Athos sought the protection of popes and potentates from the West. While Athonite archives contain numerous charters stemming from Byzantine and other Orthodox rulers, and the monasteries’ vast Ottoman holdings have received increasing attention in recent years, charters issued by Latin Christian potentates and prelates have largely been overlooked. This contribution adds new information to previous studies of the relationship of Mount Athos with the Medieval West and applies the notion of interreligious founding to the Athonite context, attempting thereby to nuance the notion that Byzantine and Latin religious patronage operated in mutually exclusive spheres, even after the so-called “Great Schism” of 1054.

In: Endowment Studies