Ever since the Carolingian period members of the ruling families have been forced to become clerics and been sent to monasteries in order to end their secular careers, but the practice of exile and enforced career changes already dates back to Late Antiquity. Despite its importance to understand conflict management and conflict resolution in the later Roman Empire, the subject of enforced clerical ordination has yet to receive sustained consideration.
This paper shall investigate the question of when enforced clerical ordination first appeared in late antique sources and how it developed into a relatively common practice in the western and eastern parts of the Roman Empire. It shall discuss the secular and ecclesiastical, legal and institutional background of this specific practice, the different interests involved in resorting to enforced clerical ordination, a typology of criminal charges that could result in exile and enforced clerical ordination as well as the personal situation, social status and network of the exiled person. It shall also address the question of how individual non-Christians introduced pagan elements into local rituals at their place of exile as a consequence of their forced status change, for example, in the case of the Neoplatonic philosopher and Praetorian Prefect Cyrus of Constantinople, who became bishop of Kotyaion in Phrygia.