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Paulicians (Old Armenian: Պաւղիկեաններ, Pawłikeanner; Greek: Παυλικιανοί; Arab sources: Baylakānī, al Bayālika) were a Christian adoptionist sect from Armenia which formed in the 7th century, possibly influenced by Gnostic movement and religion of Marcionism and Manichaeism. According to medieval Byzantine sources, the group's name was derived from the 3rd century Bishop of Antioch, Paul of Samosata, but Paulicianists were often misidentified with Paulianists, while others derived their name from Paul the Apostle, hence the identity of the Paul for whom the movement was named is disputed. Constantine-Silvanus is considered to be its founder. They flourished between 650 and 872 in Armenia and Eastern Anatolia and since then in Theme of Thrace of the Byzantine Empire. They had a widespread political and military influence in Asia Minor, including a temporary independent state in the mid-9th century centered in Tephrike, because of which were continuously persecuted by Byzantine emperors since the mid-7th century. They were also persecuted because of religious reasoning but were not during the periods of Byzantine Iconoclasm or their activity was ignored in exchange for military duties. Between the mid-8th and mid-10th century, Byzantine emperors forcibly moved many Paulician colonies to Philippopolis in Thrace to defend the empire's boundary with the First Bulgarian Empire as well to weaken Paulician influence in the East, where they were eventually brought to the Catholic Church at the time of emperor Alexios I Komnenos. In Armenia the movement evolved into Tondrakism, while in Europe influenced the formation of Bogomilism, Catharism and other heretic movements. In Europe they are the ancestors of the Roman Catholic Bulgarians, specifically of Banat Bulgarians.
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