The council of Chalcedon was adjourned after its final session on 1 November 451. The emperor and empress were indeed gratified that at last in their day the Church was properly unified…
The Council of Chalcedon Re-Examined, by V.C. Samuel
…and the leaders of the council were also pleased that its decisions were unanimously accepted by the participants.
Almost, but not quite. There were complaints that force was used to secure signatures. Further, several Egyptian bishops never signed the Tome and the Chalcedonian definition of the Faith.
The emperor ratified the decisions of the council, investing these with legal status in the empire. Anyone who disputed the decisions of the council would be punished in accordance with his position and rank: a government official would lose his status; a private citizen would be expelled from the city; a member of clergy would lose his rank and suffer other penalties. Critics were deemed heretic.
The emperor wrote that the council did nothing more than ratify the creed of Nicea as expounded in the councils of 381 and 431. He would continue:
The council ‘made absolutely no innovation about the apostolic faith, but in all respects … followed the teaching of Athanasius and Theophilus and Cyril.’
It was deemed that Eutyches and Dioscorus were teaching the ideas of Apollinarius, and any followers of these shall not have the right to execute a will or inherit in accord with the provisions of a will; whatever is left to them will be forfeit. They shall not ordain bishops or priests. Their churches will be confiscated and they shall have no assemblies or meetings. If they meet in a house with the consent of the owner, the house will be confiscated.
They shall not write anything against the council; if they do, they shall be exiled perpetually, and their books shall be destroyed.
In case it is thought that it was just a few Egyptian bishops who were on the outs, even pope Leo refused to accept the council for a time. His disagreement was specifically concerning the see of Constantinople (recalling the desire of the emperor to make Constantinople equal to Rome and the most powerful see in the east).
Ultimately, the threat posed by the non-Chalcedonian bishops drove Leo to accept the doctrinal decrees of the council. It isn’t completely clear from Samuel’s text, but it appears this acceptance excluded any reference to the issue of Constantinople.
With Rome and Constantinople now united, the lines were clearly drawn. It wasn’t only bishops in Egypt that were opposed. However, the weight in this disagreement was clearly in favor of the emperor and the pope. Samuel describes the opposition in four stages, beginning in 451 and running through the seventh century and the time of Muslim conquests of Byzantine lands.
The first stage, running from 451 to 475 was a period where the non-Chalcedonians, with no imperial backing, were suppressed and reduced to the status of negligible sects in some inaccessible corners of the empire. The second stage, running through 518, gave the non-Chalcedonian movement time to strengthen itself.
The third stage ran from 518 to 536. While emperor Justin I brought back an era of persecution against the opponents of the council, his nephew and successor Justinian saw need to try and work out the disagreements by negotiation. His efforts failed, and further efforts also did not succeed. And this marks the fourth stage, running until the Arab Muslims began their conquests.
The initial opposition, or the first stage. Of this time, A. A. Vasilev would write: