but he was also negotiating a Church union with the Anti-Chalcedonian majority.
The primary interest of these emperors was imperial unity, which was contingent upon Church unity by virtue of the fact that the Church and State were intertwined at the time. These emperors would indeed seek compromises, even of the faith, for the sake of Imperial unity (as we Orthodox/non-Chalcedonian believe occurred at Chalcedon in particular), yet when such attempts failed, they nonetheless resorted to other means of achieving such unity, by, for example, instigating fear in the opposing party via persecution for the sake of compelling their submission.
It is interesting that during the same period, the Orthodox/Chalcedonian Patriarch of Alexandria St John the Almsgiver, by his personal virtue and holiness, managed not only to attract quite a few Monophysites/Anti-Chalcedonians to the Orthodox/Chalcedonian Church ,
You can interpret history as you will, but I would recall that despite severe imperial persecution, the vast and predominant majority of Orthodox Christians in Egypt remained steadfast to the Orthodox/non-Chalcedonian Patriarch of Alexandria, St Dioscoros the Confessor, by virtue of his personal virtue and holiness, as opposed to the Chalcedonian Patriarch who was merely an imperial puppet. It was largely the spiritual character of St Dioscoros that confirmed the Orthodox Copts of Egypt in the faith despite his exile, and the shedding of the blood of their brothers and sisters. Historian Professor J. Neale provides a balanced depiction of St. Dioscoros' character, describing him as a “man of excellent disposition and much beloved for his humility. These virtues were adorned with his fiery zeal for the faith and his presence of mind" (History of the Holy Eastern Church
, Vol. 1, page 278, 301) Even Theodoret of Cyrus, the arch-enemy of St Dioscoros, “whose testimony in [St Dioscorus’] favour cannot be suspected, declared in a letter to Dioscorus, soon after his consecration, that the fame of his virtues, and particularly of his modesty and humility, was widely spread (Ep. 60)” ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š (Wace, H., A Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D., with an Account of the Principal Sects and Heresies
The dominating population of the OO in the present day ancient Patriarchal lands is testimony to the steadfast faith of the Orthodox faithful despite their always being the persecuted party, whether under pagan, Byzantine, or Islamic authorities.
As for conversions, they occurred both ways during such times of confusion; ultimately however, there was always the political factor on the Chalcedonian side, which forced many to convert for their own well being - economic and physical. The same cannot be said of the conversions made to the Orthodox/non-Chalcedonian Church, many of which St Severos in particular was responsible for, not merely by virtue of the example of holiness set through his life of asceticism, but also by virtue of his highly intellectual polemical arguments; Fr. Meyendroff in his Christ in Eastern Thought
recounts how weak Chalcedonian apologetics/polemics were in the face of Orthodox/non-Chalcedonian polemics/apologetics at the time.
On a sidenote in relation to John the Chalcedonian Patriarch of Alexandria, we have a positive perspective of this man in our own history, especially with respect to his co-operation with the Orthodox/non-Chalcedonian Patriarch St Anastasius in helping those who sought refuge in Egypt:"The arrival of these hordes of refugees was a great challenge to the people of Egypt. In pity of them and in a surge of the spirit of Christian charity, Abba Anastasius and his Bishops, together with the faithful, did all that was humanly possible to help them and alleviate their plight. But with all their good will and their charity, the services they could render were limited due to their own circumstances. The struggle with Constantinople had already taken a big toll of their property. Amidst the gloom of the situation, however, a silver lining shone through the dark clouds. God, in his infinite mercy, softened the heart of John, the intruding Patriarch and made him see the necessity of his co-operation with the Copts and their Pope to offer relief and hospitality to the refugees. Thus the legal successor of St. Mark found an ally in the man intruding upon his chair. Christian charity prevailed then."
(Irish Habib, The Story of the Copts, page 359)
The victims might become persecutors and vice versa.
Please do not evade the significant and relevant dissimilarity here. There is no valid analogy between a small mob of Orthodox Copts being fueled with passion to kill one Chalcedonian, and Chalcedonian Saints (i.e. Saints and Fathers of the Chalcedonian Church) rationally commanding, ordering and instigating wide-scale slaughters of Orthodox Christians.
The oncle of St Cyrill, Patriarch Theophilus (he has never been regarded as a saint by the Orthodox Church) has gained the surname of "Christian Pharaoh", because of his secular power and his hyper-autocratic character.
“Pharoah” is a nickname that was assigned to St Dioscoros, St Cyril and St Theophilus, and sometimes even St Athanasios, by anti-Alexandrian polemics, usually advocated by Western RC or Protestant scholarship - for it was Rome after all (particularly via the figure of Leo), that saw Alexandria as a threat to its self-attributed Supremacy. Chalcedonians are usually just inconsistent when they launch attacks exclusively upon St Dioscoros. He was in fact the least of them who showed a desire for power; his sole desire was to preserve the Cyrillian Orthodoxy of Ephesus 431. The same cannot be said of his Chalcedonian opponents, including the patriarch of Jerusalem who betrayed him at the last minute, the imperial authorities, and especially Leo of Rome.