The dissension between Patriarch Ignatius of Constantinople and the Caesar Bardas, the uncle of the youthful Emperor [[Michael III the Amorian|Michael III]], concerning Bardas' illicit relationship with his daughter-in-law and other questionable moral practices, led to Photius' promotion. Ignatius was arrested and exiled to the island of Terebinthos in 858, where he submitted his resignation. Photius, a [[laity|layperson]], was inducted into the [[priest]]hood and made a [[bishop]] within six days and then installed as patriarch. He resisted this appointment, as he wished for a more contemplative life. He was the most distinguished scholar at that time and was seen as being above suspicion because he was strongly opposed to the iconoclast party, which had caused his parents' death.
Several months after his exile, a few Ignatius' supporters came together in the Church of Saint Irene and plotted to restore Ignatius to the patriarchate. They made an appeal to [[Pope]] [[Nicholas I of Rome|Nicholas]] trying to
discrediting his rival Photius' appointment. This was signed by only six metropolitans and fifteen bishops. There were several [[monk]]s in this camp that set out for Rome, even though Ignatius had voluntarily resigned. They were received by Pope Nicholas I, who was eager to assert his power over the Eastern church. Pope Nicholas had previously been successful in bringing the Western church under his absolute control, and he now sought the same power over the East.
Photius convened a council in the [[Church of the Holy Apostles (Constantinople)|Church of the Holy Apostles]] in 859. The intent was to stop the controversy about his appointment. This council found that Ignatius had not been elected by a [[synod]] and therefore his election to the patriarchate was illegal. He had been appointed by Empress Theodora. Unfortunately the Caesar Barda was vengeful against the opposition and imposed an exile on Ignatius to the island of [[Metropolis of Mytiline|Mytiline]] and persecuted some of his followers. Photius strongly objected to this action.
Pope Nicholas felt that the appointment needed the consent of Rome and objected to the fact that Photius was a layperson even though there was precedence for this in both the Western and Eastern churches. He also demanded that the Byzantines give back to Rome the territories of Calabria and Sicily.
In 861, with approval of Photius, Emperor Michael convened a general council in the Church of the Holy Apostles, known as the First-Second Synod. The pope was invited, and he was glad to send his delegates. He sent them with the instruction to investigate the election of Photius in relation to the [[canons]] and and to demand that Illyricum and southern Italy be given to Rome. This synod ratified the actions of the [[Seventh Ecumenical Council]] condemning iconoclasm. Also, Photius was affirmed as the lawful and canonical patriarch. The western delegation accepted the legality of Photius' appointment. Ignatius appeared before the synod and was deposed.
When the delegates returned to Rome and
that Nicholas found that his demands for territorial rights were not considered, he became angry and excommunicated his delegates. He convened a council in Rome in 863 in which he deposed and excommunicated Photius on the basis that his appointment was uncanonical. He chose to recognize Ignatius as the legitimate patriarch.
The conflict between Rome and Constantinople reached a climax. Photius not only was defending the autonomy of the Eastern church, but also vital interests of the empire. With the full support of Emperor Michael III, he sent a letter to the pope demanding that he withdraw his decision against Photius. In 867, a council was held with over a thousand clergymen attending. This council excommunicated Nicholas, condemned the pope's claims of primacy, his interference in Bulgaria, and the innovative addition of the [[filioque]] clause to the [[Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed|creed]]. The letters of both Nicholas and Photius were read at this council. The situation was additionally complicated by the question of [[Papacy|papal]] authority over the entire Church and by disputed jurisdiction over newly converted [[Bulgaria]]. It pronounced that the Latin interference in the affairs of the Byzantine Church was unlawful. The German Emperor Louis II was asked to intervene and depose Pope Nicholas, but he died that same year.
There were two emperors in the East at the time, Michael II and Basil I. Michael plotted to kill Basil, but Basil found out about the plot and murdered Michael. Photius refused to accept the murder of Michael and refused Basil [[communion]] on a great [[feast day]]. This angered Basil, so he had Photius imprisoned in a [[monastery]].
This state of affairs changed with the murder of Photius' patron Bardas in 866 and of the Emperor Michael in 867 by his colleague [[Basil I|Basil the Macedonian]], who now usurped the throne. Photius was deposed as [[patriarch]] not so much because he was a protegé of Bardas and Michael, but because Basil I was seeking an alliance with the pope and the western emperor. Photius was removed from his office and banished around the end of September 867, and Ignatius was reinstated on [[November 23]]. During his second patriarchate, Ignatius followed a policy not very different from that of Photius. This perhaps helped improve relations between the two, and circa 876 Photius was suddenly recalled to Constantinople and entrusted with the education of the emperor's children, becoming an advisor to Ignatius. On the death of Ignatius in October 877, Photius, after the requisite show of reluctance, having been recommended by Ignatius prior to his death, was restored to the patriarchal throne.