John the Oxite

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John the Oxite was the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch from c. 1090, staying in office under the Muslim rule up to 1098 and then under the Crusaders rule up to 1100, when he was exiled by prince Bohemund I of Antioch. He fled to the Byzantine Empire and continued to govern those parts of the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch that were under Byzantine rule. He was a prominent writer of religious texts, and reformer of religious and charitable foundations.[1]

Patriarch John took office in 1089 or 1090, when the city of Antioch was still under Muslim rule.[2] At the time of the Siege of Antioch in 1097 by the Christian armies of the First Crusade, he was imprisoned by the Turkish governor Yaghi-Siyan, who suspected his loyalty. On occasion he was hung from the city walls and his feet were hit by iron rods. According to the Historia belli sacri (c. 1131), after the siege the Christian women of the city went to release the imprisoned patriarch, only to find that he could not stand, his legs having been weakened by so long a confinement.[3]

He was released and re-established as Patriarch when the crusaders captured the city in 1098.[4] At first, he was not denied of his office, but soon the climate changed. The crusaders decided to established a Latin bishop in Albara (where there was no Greek bishop established) Peter of Narbonne. Since Peter was consecrated by patriarch John,[5] both prelates coexisted for a while, until John became politically inconvenient for the ruling prince Bohemund I of Antioch. Bohemund accused him of conspiring with the Byzantine Empire, an old enemy of Bohemund and his Norman family, and John was exiled to Constantinople in 1100. The Eastern Orthodox Church in the Principality of Antioch was repressed in favor of the Latin Church, under Bernard of Valence, who succeeded Peter of Narbonne and took the position of Patriarch, establishing the line of Latin Patriarchs of Antioch.

In Constantinople, John received support from the Byzantine government and resided at monastery of Oxia, where he wrote anti-Latin treatises and continued to preside over those parts of the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch that were still under Byzantine rule. He never returned to Antioch and after him a new Greek Patriarchs for Antioch were appointed in Constantinople, remaining there until it was possible to restore them in Antioch later in the 12th century.


  1. ^ Thomas 1987, p. 186.
  2. ^ Runciman 2005, p. 127.
  3. ^ John France, "The Use of the Anonymous Gesta Francorum in the Early Twelfth-Century Sources for the First Crusade," in Alan V. Murray, ed., From Clermont to Jerusalem: The Crusades and Crusader Societies, 1095–1500 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1998), 38.
  4. ^ Runciman 2005, p. 146.
  5. ^ Runciman 2005, p. 164.