Key Points

Isaurian Emperor Leo III construed his many type of military failures as a judgment on the empire by God, and chose that it was being judged for the worship of religious images. He banned religious imperiods in about 730 CE, the start of the Oriental Iconoclasm.At the Council of Hieria in 754 CE, the Church endorsed an iconoclast position and asserted image worship to be blasphemy.At the 2nd Council of Nicaea in 787 CE, the decrees of the previous iconoclast council were reversed and picture worship was brought back, marking the end of the First Iconoclasm.Emperor Leo V instituted a 2nd period of iconoclasm in 814 CE, again maybe motivated by armed forces failures viewed as indicators of divine displeasure, however only a couple of years later on, in 842 CE, icon worship was again reinproclaimed.

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The delibeprice destruction within a culture of the culture’s own religious symbols and various other symbols or monuments.

Council of Hieria

The first church council involved through spiritual imagery. On behalf of the church, the council endorsed an iconoclast place and also claimed image worship to be blasphemy.

2nd Council of Nicaea

This council reversed the decrees of the Council of Hieria and brought back image worship, marking the end of the First Oriental Iconoclasm.

Iconoclasm, Greek for “image-breaking,” is the delibeprice damage within a culture of the culture’s very own religious icons and other icons or monuments. Iconoclasm is mainly encouraged by an interpretation of the Ten Commandments that declares the making and also worshipping of imperiods, or symbols, of holy figures (such as Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and also saints) to be idolaattempt and therefore blasphemy.

Most enduring sources concerning the Byzantine Iconoclasm were written by the victors, or the iconodules (people that worship religious images), so it is difficult to obtain an exact account of events. However, the Byzantine Iconoclasm refers to 2 periods in the history of the Oriental Realm as soon as the use of spiritual images or symbols was opposed by religious and also royal authorities. The “First Iconoclasm,” as it is sometimes dubbed, lasted between around 730 CE and 787 CE, in the time of the Isaurian Dynasty. The “Second Iconoclasm” was between 814 CE and 842 CE. The movement was motivated by changes in Orthodox worship that were themselves generated by the major social and also political upheavals of the seventh century for the Oriental Empire.


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


Traditional explanations for Oriental Iconoclasm have actually periodically focused on the importance of Islamic restrictions versus imperiods influencing Byzantine believed. According to Arnold J. Toynbee, for example, it was the prestige of Islamic armed forces successes in the 7th and also 8th centuries that encouraged Byzantine Christians to adopt the Islamic position of rejecting and also damaging idolatrous imeras. The function of woguys and also monks in sustaining the veneration of images has actually additionally been asserted. Social and class-based arguments have actually been put forward, such as the assertion that iconoclasm developed political and financial divisions in Byzantine culture, and that it was generally sustained by the eastern, poorer, non-Greek peoples of the empire that had actually to constantly address Arab raids. On the other hand, the wealthier Greeks of Constantinople, and also also the peoples of the Balkan and Italian provinces, strongly opposed iconoclasm. In current years in Greece, iconoclasm has actually become a favorite topic of gradual and also Marxist historians and social researchers, who think about it a type of medieval class battle and also have attracted impetus from it. Re-evaluation of the composed and product proof relating to the period of Byzantine Iconoclasm by scholars, including John Haldon and also Leslie Brubaker, has challenged many kind of of the basic assumptions and also factual assertions of the conventional account.

The First Iconoclasm: Leo III

The seventh century had been a duration of significant crisis for the Byzantine Realm, and also believers had started to lean more heavily on magnificent assistance. The use of images of the holy boosted in Orthodox worship, and these images progressively became concerned as points of accessibility to the divine. Leo III understood his many type of military failures as a judgment on the empire by God, and also decided that they were being judged for their worship of spiritual images.

Emperor Leo III, the founder of the Isaurian Dynasty, and also the iconoclasts of the eastern church, banned religious imeras in around 730 CE, claiming that worshiping them was heresy; this ban continued under his successors. He accompanied the ban with widespread devastation of spiritual images and also persecution of the world who venerated them.

The western church stayed firmly in support of the usage of images throughout the period, and also the entirety episode widened the growing divergence in between the eastern and also western traditions in what was still a unified church, as well as facilitating the reduction or removal of Byzantine political manage over parts of Italy.

Leo passed away in 741 CE, and also his kid and heir, Constantine V, furthered his views until the end of his own dominance in 775 CE. In 754 CE, Constantine summoned the initially ecumenical council involved via spiritual imagery, the Council of Hieria; 340 bishops attended. On behalf of the church, the council endorsed an iconoclast position and claimed photo worship to be blasphemy. John of Damascus, a Syrian monk living exterior Oriental region, ended up being a significant opponent of iconoclasm through his theological works.

The Quick Rerotate of Icon Worship

After the death of Constantine’s boy, Leo IV (who ruled from 775 CE-780 CE), his wife, Irene, took power as regent for her child, Constantine VI (that ruled from 780 CE-97 CE). After Leo IV as well passed away, Irene called one more ecumenical council, the Second Council of Nicaea, in 787 CE, that reversed the decrees of the previous iconoclast council and also recovered photo worship, marking the end of the First Iconoclasm. This may have been an attempt to soothe the strained connections in between Constantinople and also Rome.

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The 2nd Iconoclasm (814 CE-842 CE)

Emperor Leo V the Armenian instituted a 2nd period of Iconoclasm in 814 CE, aget probably encouraged by military failures seen as signs of divine displeasure. The Byzantines had experienced a series of humiliating detasks at the hands of the Bulgarian Khan Krum. It was made official in 815 CE at a meeting of the clergy in the Hagia Sophia. But only a couple of years later, in 842 CE, the regent Theodora aget reinstated icon worship.