Key Points

Isaurian Emperor Leo III interpreted his numerous military failures together a judgment on the realm by God, and decided the it was being judged because that the worship of religious images. He banned spiritual images in about 730 CE, the start of the byzantine Iconoclasm.At the board of directors of Hieria in 754 CE, the Church endorsed an iconoclast position and declared image worship to it is in blasphemy.At the second Council of Nicaea in 787 CE, the decrees the the ahead iconoclast council to be reversed and image praise was restored, marking the end of the very first Iconoclasm.Emperor Leo V describe a second duration of iconoclasm in 814 CE, again possibly urged by armed forces failures viewed as signs of divine displeasure, however only a couple of decades later, in 842 CE, symbol worship to be again reinstated.

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The deliberate damage within a culture of the culture’s own religious icons and also other icons or monuments.

Council of Hieria

The an initial church council involved with spiritual imagery. On instead of of the church, the the supervisory board endorsed one iconoclast position and also declared image worship to it is in blasphemy.

Second the supervisory board of Nicaea

This council reversed the decrees that the the supervisory board of Hieria and revitalized image worship, marking the end of the first Byzantine Iconoclasm.

Iconoclasm, Greek because that “image-breaking,” is the deliberate damage within a society of the culture’s own spiritual icons and also other symbols or monuments. Iconoclasm is generally motivated by an interpretation of the Ten Commandments the declares the making and worshipping the images, or icons, the holy numbers (such together Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and also saints) to be idolatry and also therefore blasphemy.

Most making it through sources concerning the oriental Iconoclasm were created by the victors, or the iconodules (people who worship religious images), so the is complicated to obtain precise account the events. However, the oriental Iconoclasm describes two periods in the history of the oriental Empire once the usage of religious images or icons was protest by religious and royal authorities. The “First Iconoclasm,” as it is sometimes called, it is long between around 730 CE and 787 CE, during the Isaurian Dynasty. The “Second Iconoclasm” was in between 814 CE and also 842 CE. The activity was triggered by alters in Orthodox praise that were themselves produced by the significant social and political turmoils of the seventh century because that the byzantine Empire.


Byzantine Iconoclasm. A depiction of the damage of a religious image under the byzantine Iconoclasm, by Chludov Psalter, nine century CE.


Traditional explanations for byzantine Iconoclasm have actually sometimes concentrated on the importance of Islamic prohibitions against images influencing byzantine thought. According to Arnold J. Toynbee, for example, it was the call of Islamic army successes in the 7th and also 8th centuries the motivated byzantine Christians to take on the Islamic position of rejecting and destroying idolatrous images. The duty of women and also monks in supporting the veneration of images has likewise been asserted. Social and also class-based disagreements have been placed forward, such as the assertion the iconoclasm produced political and also economic departments in byzantine society, and also that it was typically supported by the eastern, poorer, non-Greek individuals of the realm who had to constantly address Arab raids. Top top the various other hand, the wealthier Greeks that Constantinople, and additionally the individuals of the Balkan and also Italian provinces, strongly protest iconoclasm. In recent decades in Greece, iconoclasm has come to be a favorite topic that progressive and also Marxist historians and also social scientists, who take into consideration it a form of medieval course struggle and have drawn inspiration from it. Re-evaluation the the written and also material proof relating come the period of oriental Iconoclasm by scholars, consisting of John Haldon and Leslie Brubaker, has tested many the the simple assumptions and also factual assertions of the traditional account.

The very first Iconoclasm: Leo III

The seventh century had been a duration of major crisis for the byzantine Empire, and believers had started to lean much more heavily on divine support. The usage of pictures of the holy increased in Orthodox worship, and these images increasingly came to be regarded together points of access to the divine. Leo III taken his numerous military failures together a referee on the realm by God, and also decided that they were being judged because that their prayer of religious images.

Emperor Leo III, the founder that the Isaurian Dynasty, and the iconoclasts of the east church, banned spiritual images in about 730 CE, claiming the worshiping them was heresy; this ban ongoing under his successors. He accompanied the ban through widespread damage of religious images and also persecution that the human being who venerated them.

The west church stayed firmly in assistance of the use of photos throughout the period, and the totality episode widened the cultivation divergence between the eastern and western traditions in what was still a merged church, and also facilitating the reduction or remove of byzantine political manage over parts of Italy.

Leo died in 741 CE, and his son and also heir, Constantine V, advanced his views until the end of his own dominion in 775 CE. In 754 CE, Constantine summoned the very first ecumenical council concerned with religious imagery, the board of directors of Hieria; 340 bishops attended. On behalf of the church, the council endorsed an iconoclast position and declared image worship to it is in blasphemy. John of Damascus, a Syrian monk living outside byzantine territory, came to be a significant opponent of iconoclasm v his theological writings.

The short Return of symbol Worship

After the fatality of Constantine’s son, Leo IV (who rule from 775 CE-780 CE), his wife, Irene, took strength as regent for her son, Constantine through (who ruled from 780 CE-97 CE). After Leo IV also died, Irene called an additional ecumenical council, the second Council of Nicaea, in 787 CE, that reversed the decrees of the previous iconoclast council and revitalized image worship, noting the end of the an initial Iconoclasm. This may have been an effort to soothing the strained relations in between Constantinople and Rome.

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The 2nd Iconoclasm (814 CE-842 CE)

Emperor Leo V the Armenian describe a second duration of Iconoclasm in 814 CE, again possibly urged by military failures seen as indications of magnificent displeasure. The Byzantines had suffered a collection of humiliating defeats at the hands of the Bulgarian cannes Krum. It was made main in 815 CE at a meeting of the clergy in the Hagia Sophia. However only a few decades later, in 842 CE, the regent Theodora again reinstated icon worship.