Greek for the "breaking of images," referring to any attempt to destroy religious images (icons [q.v.]), and referring more specifically to the attempt by certain eighth and ninth-century emperors (q.v.) to cleanse Byzantium (q.v.) of what they perceived as religious idolatry. Hostility toward religious images was not new. Old Testament prohibitions against idolatry had a continuing influence on the church and probably account for church-supported Iconoclasm prior to 726, when Emperor Leo III (q.v.) ordered that the image of Christ above the Chalke of the Great Palace (qq.v.) be removed. What was new was imperial support of such prohibitions. A silentium (q.v.) in 730 ordered the general destruction of religious images. The Patriarch Germanos I (q.v.) was forced to resign, and Leo III, intent on demonstrating his control over the church, replaced him with the Iconoclast Anastasios (q.v.). Real persecution began during the reign of Constantine V (q.v.), who rejected the veneration of relics (q.v.), and who argued that the Eucharist was the only true image of Christ. Persecution declined during Leo IV's (q.v.) reign, and it was condemned in 787 at the Second Council of Nicaea (q.v.), convened by Irene (q.v.) to restore icons. With this the first period of Iconoclasm (726-787) came to a close. Its revival in the ninth century under Leo V and Theophilos (qq.v.) constituted a second period (815-843). Theophilos's widow Theodora and her minister Theotikstos (qq.v.) condemned Iconoclasm for the last time in 843. Thus, from 726-843 the Iconoclast movement was a potent and disruptive force in Byzantium. Usurpers and rebels like Artabasdos (q.v.), Michael Lachanodrakon, and Thomas the Slav (q.v.) championed the cause of images against Iconoclast emperors who stripped the church of its Iconophile bishops (qq.v.), persecuting those, like Euthymios of Sardis (q.v.) who resisted. During Constantine V's reign, it seemed as if the state was at war against the institution of monasticism (q.v.), which supported icon production and veneration. The last Iconoclast emperor Theophilos singled out monks for punishment, including the two icon-painters Theodore and Theophanes Graptos (q.v.). The failure of Iconoclasm was partly due to the widespread popularity of icons, expressed in the intense devotion of ordinary citizens, many of whom venerated small icons in private, as did Theophilos's own wife Theodora (q.v.). But monks suffered the most, had more cause for celebration in 843, and were themselves most celebrated in the history and hagiography (qq.v.) about Iconoclasm.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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