1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Acephali

ACEPHALI (from ά-, privative, and κεφαλή, head), a term applied to several sects as having no head or leader; and in particular to a strict monophysite sect that separated itself, in the end of the 5th century, from the rule of the patriarch of Alexandria (Peter Mongus), and remained “without king or bishop” till they were reconciled by Mark I. (799–819).[1] The term is also used to denote clerici vagrantes, i.e. clergy without title or benefice, picking up a living anyhow (cf. Hinschius i. p. 64). Certain persons in England during the reign of King Henry I. were called Acephali because they had no lands by virtue of which they could acknowledge a superior lord. The name is also given to certain legendary races described by ancient naturalists and geographers as having no heads, their mouths and eyes being in their breasts, generally identified with Pliny’s Blemmyae.

  1. See Gibbon, ch. xlvii. (vol. v. p. 129 in Pury’s ed.).