Monothelites (Gr. , from , single, and , to will), the name of a sect which maintained that in Christ there was but one will and one voluntary operation, while they admitted the doctrine of two whole and distinct natures after the incarnation. The origin of Monothelitism was due to the effort made by the emperor Heraclius to conciliate the numerous Monophysite churches. (See Monophysites.) At the suggestion of Sergius, patriarch of Constantinople, a profession of faith was drawn up affirming that in Christ there is "only one mode of willing and working," and this was embodied in 639 in an imperial edict called Ekthesis. Cyrus, patriarch of Alexandria, at the instance of Sergius, made this formula a part of a doctrinal compromise, which was adopted by an assembly of Monophysite bishops held in that city, and thus led to the reunion of a large number of Mono-physite churches. Sophronius, then a.priest of Alexandria, strenuously but vainly opposed the adoption of this formula; and being soon afterward chosen patriarch of Jerusalem, he denounced the compromise in his inaugural letter to the bishops of Christendom. Sergius thereupon wrote to Pope Honorius I. requesting him to use his authority with Sophronius, and forbid the use of formulas expressing the existence in Christ of two wills and two voluntary operations.
To this request Honorius assented. (See Honorius. ) But after his death (638), the bishops of Rome placed themselves at the head of the opposition, and a new decree of the emperor Constans H., called Typos (648),, designed to enforce peace by a prohibition of the controversy, had not the desired effect. The first council of Lateran (649) under Pope Martin I. condemned the Monothehtes and the two imperial laws. The pope suffered imprisonment and died in exile or this decree, but some years later (680) the sixth acumenical council, held at Constantinople, recognized in Christ two wills made one by the moral subordination of the human. The Monothelites obtained once more a transient victory under Philippicus Bardanes (711-13), who had been brought up by the patriarch Ma-carius; but after the elevation of Anastasius II. to the throne, all the Monothelites were forced to submit, and the sect maintained itself only in a corner of Asia, outside of the Byzantine boundaries, until the 12th century, when they united with the Roman Catholic church. (See Maronites.) - A history of the Monothelite heresy was written by Combefis, in his Auctu-arium Patrum, vol. ii. (Paris, 1648).