This refers to a North African Christian sect that dates back to the dispute over the election of Caecilian as bishop of Carthage in 312. Donatism was viewed as a heresy by the church. The movement was named after Donatus, primate of Numidia, who opposed Caecilian's election. Donatists were among the most educated Romanized citizens of Numidia. They believed that the validity of sacraments required that its ministers be in a state of sinlesness.
   The church refuted this notion. This resulted in theological and often violent disputes between Donatists and Orthodox Catholics. Since they opposed the religion of the Roman Empire, they also rebelled against its political power. In 337, Emperor Constantine exiled the group's leader to Gaul, and in 412 and 414, they were legally denied ecclesiastical and civil rights. Augustine worked against them and weakened the movement. Despite all these obstacles, with the arrival of the Vandals the movement was rejuvenated, and it survived in North Africa until the Arab conquests in the seventh century. Some historians claim that Donatism was one the factors contributing to the demise of Roman power in North Africa.
   See also Augustine; Chaouia.

Historical Dictionary of the Berbers (Imazighen) . . 2014.

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