Michael II the Younger (d. 1215) [Syr. Orth.]

Patr. of the Syr. Orth. Church (1199–1215). Michael was called Younger (Zʿuro) by Bar ʿEbroyo in the latter’s Ecclesiastical History, in order to differentiate him from his namesake and uncle Michael Rabo (i.e., the Elder), patr. 1166–1199. Michael’s name before the accession was Yeshuʿ Sephtono.

Michael came from a family of Melitene which was very influential in ecclesiastical politics. His other uncle, Ṣliba, was archbishop of Mardin (1177), and later of Jerusalem (1184), ordained for both dioceses by Michael the patr. The name of Michael’s father was Abraham (Chronicle of 1234, 339/252), whose other son, i.e., Michael’s brother Yaʿqub, was ordained, again by his uncle the patr., the maphrian 1189–1214; at the accession also he changed his name to Grigorios I.

Michael was a monk in Dayro d-Mor Barṣawmo. He wanted to become patr. directly after his uncle’s death, and in order to play a more active role in the process of election he left his monastery, while the abbot followed him and tried to bring him back to the monastery. However due to Michael’s machinations the abbot was arrested by the governor of Gargar, and released under the condition that he would not disturb Michael any longer (Bar ʿEbroyo, Ecclesiastical History, 607).

Michael received his patriarchal ordination at the hand of his brother, the maphrian, in the Monastery of Mar Ḥenanya. It was on that occasion that he changed his name to ‘Michael’ so that something of his uncle’s luck would be bestowed on him (Bar ʿEbroyo, Ecclesiastical History, 611). He quickly ordained three bishops thus creating his own supporters. The inhabitants of Mardin paid a bribe to the governor of the city that he might expel him, together with his brother (Bar ʿEbroyo, Ecclesiastical History, 611). He left the city and after some attempts to find a city to exercise his authority he withdrew to his parents’ house in Melitene. For all the time of his pontificate (as an antipatriarch) Michael was in opposition to Patr. Athanasios IX (1199–1207).

According to the anonymous author of the ‘Chronicle of 1234’ (253, 260), who, however, regarded Athanasios as illegitimate (‘Chronicle of 1234’, 340/254), by January 1204 (‘Chronicle of 1234’, 340/253) Athanasios was recognized in Syria, the Sultanate of Rum, and Ṭur ʿAbdin, whereas Michael was recognized in the East in the dioceses of Tagrit, Mosul, Nisibis, Khabur, and Mardin. Both patriarchs used money and gifts for governors as means of promoting their cause.

After Athanasios’ death in 1207, the new patriarch became Yuḥanon XIV (1208–20), and Michael’s schism continued now against Yuḥanon. According to Bar ʿEbroyo Michael does not seem to have ever gained much popularity among the laity either and was criticised even by the members of his own family.

Michael died in 1215, 40 days after his brother, the maphrian Grigorios I, who had always supported him (Bar ʿEbroyo, Ecclesiastical History, 633).

    Primary Sources

    • Abbeloos and Lamy, Gregorii Barhebraei chronicon ecclesiasticum, vol. 2 (1874).
    • A.  Abouna and J.-M.  Fiey, Anonymi auctoris Chronicon ad A.C. 1234 pertinens, II (CSCO 354; 1974). (FT of Chabot 1916)
    • J.-B.  Chabot, Anonymi auctoris Chronicon ad annum Christi 1234 pertinens, II (CSCO 82; 1916). (Syr.)
    • J.-B.  Chabot, Chronicon ad A.C. 1234 pertinens, I (CSCO 81; 1920). (Syr.)
    • J.-B.  Chabot, Anonymi auctoris Chronicon ad A.C. 1234 pertinens, I (CSCO 109; 1937). (FT of Chabot 1920)

    Secondary Sources

    • P.  Kawerau, Die jakobitische Kirche im Zeitalter der syrischen Renaissance: Idee und Wirklichkeit (1955).


How to Cite This Entry

Witold Witakowski, “Michael II the Younger,” in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay, https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Michael-II-the-Younger.

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

Witold Witakowski, “Michael II the Younger,” in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018), https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Michael-II-the-Younger.

Bibliography Entry Citation:

Witakowski, Witold. “Michael II the Younger.” In Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition. Edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay. Digital edition prepared by David Michelson, Ute Possekel, and Daniel L. Schwartz. Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018. https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Michael-II-the-Younger.

A TEI-XML record with complete metadata is available at https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Michael-II-the-Younger/tei.

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