This is one of several translated excerpts from Byzantine sources produced and mounted with historical introduction and commentary by Paul Stephenson.




Founded c. AD 450 in Constantinople by a certain Stoudios, the monastery was dedicated to St. John the Baptist, hence its official name, The Monastery of the Prodromos (forerunner, i.e. John) tou stoudiou. It functioned throughout the so-called "Dark Ages," and emerged during the period of political iconoclasm as a bulwark for the iconodule cause. Most famously, the superior of the monastery (hegoumenos) Theodore, was the leader of resistance during the second period of iconoclasm after 814. Theodore was appointed with his uncle, Platon, to invigorate the monastery in c. 798, by Irene. Hitherto, Theodore and Plato had been based at their family monastery of Sakkoudion. Theodore endured several periods imprisoned or in exile for his resistance to official policy, in the first instance opposing the appointment of Nikephoros as Patriarch of Constantinople by the emperor of the same name, Nikephoros I. The Studites viewed the death of Emperor Nikephoros in battle against the Bulgarians as a demonstration of divine support for their cause.

Theodore reformed the Stoudios monastery, imposing a strict set of rules, the catecheses, which emphasised the role of monastic discipline and the necessity for monks to participate in communal work, both manual and intellectual. Another document from Theodore's period in charge at Stoudios, the so-called hypotyposis or administrative charter, provides detailed information on the organization and assets of the monastery. It refers to 700 monks, perhaps and exaggeration given the size of the foundation, and lists lands, including gardens, vineyards, watermills, livestock, a wharf for fishing boats, workshops, kitchens, etc. Clearly, the monastery was a self-sufficient community with considerable assets. More than this it was permitted for excess produce and wares to be sold to benefit the community.

The typikon, or rule set down at the foundation of the monastery, can be found on the Dumbarton Oaks WWW site, where it can be downloaded as a .pdf file.

Paul Stephenson, November 2006

Revised January 2009; January 2012