…it is obvious that in no case were Emperors successful when they attempted to go against the Faith of the Church. The Church in Byzantium was strong enough to resist the Imperial pressure. Emperors failed to impose upon the Church a compromise with Arians, a premature reconciliation with the Monophysites, Iconoclasm, and, at a later date, an ambiguous “reunion” with Rome:
Nothing could be more false than the charge of Caesaropapism which is generally brought against the Byzantine Church — the accusation that the Church rendered servile obedience to the orders of the Emperor even in the religious sphere. It is true that the Emperor always concerned himself with ecclesiastical affairs; he endeavored to maintain or to impose unity in dogma, but his claims were by no means always submissively recognized. Indeed, the Byzantines became accustomed to the idea that organized opposition to the Imperial will in religious matters was normal and legitimate. . . . Without any suspicion of paradox the religious history of Byzantium could be represented as a conflict between the Church and the State, a conflict from which the Church emerged unquestionably the victor. (Henry Gregoire).
Fr. Georges Florovsky