There were at least five disputed episcopal elections in the fourth through the sixth centuries. This intra-Christian competition did not, however, lead to the contestation of space in the form of processions as it did, for example, in Constantinople. At Rome, intra-Christian competition took the form, at least rhetorically, of siege and occupation. Instead of conquering urban space through processions—impossible as the Roman aristocracy and their patronage of traditional spectacles still dominated and defined the public sphere—Roman Christians resorted to warfare, until the mid-sixth century C.E. when an impoverished aristocracy ceased to lavish its diminished wealth on traditional forms of public display.
Throughout all of these electoral disputes a number of elements consistently emerge: one, the use of martial language to describe the events; two, the concentration on a few contested sites; and three, internal divisions among Roman Christians. A strategy of militaristic occupation of centrally important churches clearly marked these schisms, as each side marched upon and occupied the principal churches of Rome, invading and expelling their enemies from other principal churches when they could. The martial language in the descriptions of these conflicts often veered close to the religious, indicating, hinting, that the origins of Christian processions lie in conflict and battle. From the literal soldiers of Christ, armed with clubs, rocks, and swords, emerged spiritual soldiers bearing crosses and singing hymns.