THE ISAURIAN OR SYRIAN DYNASTY
UNTIL recently the Emperor Leo III (717–741), the originator of the new dynasty, was called an Isaurian in historical writings, and his descendants were usually referred to as the Isaurian dynasty. However, at the close of the nineteenth century the opinion was advanced that Leo III was not an Isaurian by birth, but a Syrian.1 This view is at present accepted by some scholars,2 but is rejected by others.3 The confusion on this point can be traced back to the early ninth century chronicler Theophanes, author of the main source on Leo’s origin. He wrote: “Leo the Isaurian was a native of Germanicea, and was in reality from Isauria.”4 The papal librarian Anastasius, who translated Theophanes into Latin in the second half of the ninth century, made no mention of Isauria but stated that Leo came from the people of Germanicea and was a Syrian by birth (genere Syrus)? The Lifeof Stephen the Younger also calls Leo “a Syrian by birth”5 (ὁ σνρoγενής).6 Germanicea was situated within the northern boundaries of Syria, east of Cilicia. An Arabian source referred to Leo as “a Christian citizen of Marash,” i.e. Germanicea, who could speak fluently and correctly both the Arabic and Roman languages.7 There is no reason to suppose that Theophanes confused the Syrian Germanicea with Germanicopolis, a city of the Isaurian province.8 The Syrian origin of Leo is quite probable.
The son of Leo III, Constantine V Copronymus (741–75), married Irene, daughter of the Khagan of the Khazars (Chazars). He had by her a son, Leo IV, often called the Khazar (Chazar), who reigned from 775 to 780. Leo IV married a Greek girl from Athens, another Irene, who at his death became ruler of the Empire because her son, Constantine VI, proclaimed Emperor from 780 to 797, was a minor. Irene, a woman of great force and ambition, entered into a struggle for power with her son when he attained his majority, and was victorious; she dethroned and blinded her son, and became sole ruler of the Empire (797–802). She illustrates the problem of whether or not in the Byzantine Empire women could exercise sovereign power on the throne, i.e. be rulers of the Empire in the full meaning of the term. Since the time of the founding of the Empire wives of emperors had borne the title “Augusta,” and in case of the minority of their sons, had fulfilled the functions of imperial power, but always in the name of their sons. In the fifth century, Pulcheria, sister of Theodosius, had been at the head of the regency during the minority of her brother. Theodora, wife of Justinian the Great, had occupied an exceptional position of influence upon political affairs. But Theodora’s political influence depended entirely upon the will of her husband, and the other women had all ruled in the name of a son or a brother. Irene is the first instance in Byzantine history of a woman ruling with full authority of supreme power. She was a true autocrat, ruling in her own right, and she represented an innovation which contradicted the secular traditions of the Empire. It is interesting to note that in official documents and decrees she was not called “empress” but “Irene, the faithful emperor (basileus)”9 Since it was the conception of the period that only an emperor, a man, could be the official lawgiver, it became necessary to adopt the fiction that Irene was an emperor. She was dethroned by the revolution of the year 802, initiated and led by one of the highest civil officials, Nicephorus, and she later died in exile. Nicephorus ascended the throne, and thus, with Irene’s deposition, ended the Isaurian or Syrian dynasty. In the period from 717 to 802 the Byzantine Empire was ruled by a dynasty of eastern origin from Asia Minor or northern Syria, intermixed with Khazarian blood through the marriage of Constantine V.
The attitude toward Arabs, Bulgarians, and Slavs
At the time of Leo’s accession to the throne the Byzantine Empire was experiencing one of the most critical periods in its history. In addition to the frightful internal anarchy caused by the Emperor’s struggle with the representatives of the Byzantine aristocracy, which had become particularly aggressive since the time of the first deposition of Justinian II, there was the Arabian menace in the East, which was coming closer to the capital. The period resembled the seventies of the seventh century under Constantine IV, and seemed even more critical in many respects.
The Arabian forces on land passed through all of Asia Minor to the west, even during the reign of the two predecessors of Leo, and occupied Sardis and Pergamus, near the shores of the Aegean Sea. At the head of the Arabian troops stood a distinguished general, Maslamah. Only a few months after Leo’s entry into Constantinople in 717, the Arabs moved on northward from Pergamus, reaching Abydos on the Hellespont, and upon crossing to the European shore, soon found themselves at the walls of the capital. At the same time a strong Arabian fleet consisting of 1,800 vessels of different types, according to the chronicle of Theophanes, sailed through the Hellespont and the Propontis and surrounded the capital by sea. A real siege of Constantinople ensued. Leo demonstrated his brilliant military ability, however, by preparing the capital for the siege in an excellent manner. Once more the skillful use of “Greek fire” caused severe damage in the Arabian fleet, while hunger and the extremely severe winter of 717–18 completed the final defeat of the Muslim army. By force of an agreement with Leo III, as well as in self-defense, the Bulgarians also were fighting against the Arabs on Thracian territory and caused heavy losses in their army. Slightly more than a year after the beginning of the siege, the Arabs departed from the capital, which was thus saved by the genius and energy of Leo III. The first mention of the chain which barred the way into the Golden Horn to the enemy ships was made in connection with this siege.
Historians attach very great significance to this failure of the Muslims to occupy Constantinople. It is justly claimed that by his successful resistance Leo saved, not only the Byzantine Empire and the eastern Christian world, but also all of western European civilization. The English scholar Bury calls the year 718 “an ecumenical date.” The Greek historian Lampros compares these events to the Persian wars of ancient Greece and calls Leo the Miltiades of medieval Hellenism. If Constantine IV halted the Arabs under Constantinople, Leo III definitely forced them back. This was the last attack of the Arabs upon the “God-guarded” city. Viewed from this standpoint, Leo’s victory assumes universal historical significance. The expedition of the Arabs against Constantinople, as well as the name of Maslamah, have left a considerable trace in the later Muhammedan legendary tradition; the name of the latter is also connected with a mosque, which, tradition says, he constructed at Constantinople.10
And yet this was one of the most brilliant epochs in the history of the early caliphate. Powerful Calif Walid I (705–15), a contemporary of the period of anarchy in the Byzantine Empire, could vie with the emperors in his construction achievements. A mosque was erected in Damascus which, like St. Sophia for the Christians, remained for a long time the most magnificent structure of the Muslim world. Muhammed’s grave at Medina was as splendid as the Holy Sepulcher at Jerusalem. It is interesting to note that among the Muslims these buildings were associated with legends relating not only to Muhammed but also to Christ. The first call of Jesus when he returns to earth, declares Muslim tradition, will come from one of the minarets of the mosque of Damascus, and the free space next to Muhammed’s grave at Medina will serve for the grave of Jesus when he dies after his second advent.11
Gradually the struggle between the Empire and the caliphate assumed the character of a sacred war. The results were satisfactory to neither Greeks nor Arabs, for the Greeks did not gain Jerusalem and the Arabs did not gain Constantinople. “Under the influence of this outcome,” said V. Barthold, “among the Christians as well as among the Muslims, the idea of the triumphant state changed to the idea of repentance, and both were expecting the end of the world. It seemed to both that only just before the end of the world could the final aims of their states be attained. In the Latin, as well as in the Greek, world a legend became current to the effect that before the end of the universe the Christian ruler (the Frankish king or the Byzantine emperor) would enter Jerusalem and hand over his earthly crown to the Saviour, while the Muslims expected the end of the world to be preceded by the fall of Constantinople.12 It was not accidental that the reign of the ‘sole pious’ Umayyad calif, Omar II (717–20), came about the year 100 of the hegira (about the year 720), when the end of the Muslim state, and at the same time the end of the world, were expected after the unsuccessful siege of Constantinople in the time of the preceding calif, Suleiman.”13
Fourteen years after the siege, in the year 732, the Arabian advance from Spain into western Europe was successfully arrested at Poitiers by Charles Martel, the all-powerful major-domo of the weak Frankish king.14
After their defeat in the year 718 the Arabs did not undertake any more serious military actions against the Empire in the time of Leo III, especially since they were apparently menaced in the north by the Khazars. Leo III had arranged the marriage of his son and successor, Constantine, with the daughter of the Khagan of the Khazars, and he began to support his new kinsman. Thus, in his struggle with the Arabs Leo found two allies: first the Bulgarians, and later the Khazars. The Arabs did not remain quiet, however, but continued their attacks upon Asia Minor and penetrated frequently far into the west, reaching even Nicaea, i.e., almost touching the shores of the Propontis. At the end of his reign Leo succeeded in defeating the Arabs at Acroïnon in Phrygia (present-day Afiun-Qara-Hisar on the railroad to Konia). This defeat forced the Arabs to clear the western part of Asia Minor and retreat to the east. With the battle at Acroïnon the Muslims connected the legend of the Turkish national hero, Saiyid Battal Ghazi, the champion of Islam, whose grave is shown even today in one of the villages south of Eskishehr (medieval Dorylaeum). The historical figure personifying this hero was the champion of Muhammedanism, Abdallah al-Battal, who fell in the battle of Acroïnon.15 The problem of the Arabian struggle, then, was brilliantly solved by Leo III.
In the middle of the eighth century serious internal troubles arose in the Arab caliphate in connection with the change of dynasties, when the Umayyads (Omayyads) were deposed by the Abbasids. The latter transferred the capital and the center of their government from Damascus to Bagdad on the Tigris, far removed from the Byzantine border. This made it possible for the successor of Leo III, Constantine V, to move the imperial border farther east along the entire boundary of Asia Minor by means of a number of successful expeditions.
But in the time of Irene, under the Caliph al-Mahdi, the Arabs again initiated a successful offensive movement into Asia Minor, and in the year 782–83 the Empress was forced to beg for peace. The resulting agreement, concluded for three years, was very humiliating for the Empire. The Empress assumed the obligation of paying the Arabs a yearly tribute of ninety or seventy thousand dinars (denarii) in semiannual instalments. It is very likely that the troops sent by Irene to Macedonia, Greece, and the Peloponnesus in the same year (783) to quell the Slavonic revolt were taken from the eastern front, thus weakening the Byzantine position in Asia Minor. In the year 798, after the successful operations of the Arab army under the Caliph Harun-ar-Rashid, a new peace agreement was concluded with the Byzantine Empire, which was to pay a tribute, as in the time of al-Mahdi.
Very active relations existed between the emperors of the Isaurian dynasty and the Bulgarians. The latter, having recently gained a stronghold on the Lower Danube, were forced above all to defend their political existence against the Byzantine attempts to destroy the achievements of Asparuch. Internal conditions in the Bulgarian kingdom of the eighth century were very intricate. The Bulgarian chiefs competed with each other for the supreme rank of khan and initiated many dynastic disturbances, and, as new conquerors, the Bulgarians were forced to struggle with the conquered Slavs of the peninsula. The Bulgarian khans of the late seventh and early eighth centuries showed great ingenuity in handling relations with their most dangerous enemy, the Byzantine Empire. The Bulgarians had aided Justinian II in reclaiming the throne and rendered active assistance to Leo III in his drive to force the Arabs away from Constantinople. After this, for a period of over thirty years, the Byzantine writers say nothing about the Bulgarians. During the reign of Leo III the Bulgarian kingdom succeeded in maintaining peace with the Empire.
In the reign of Constantine V relations with the Byzantine Empire became strained. With the aid of the Syrians and Armenians, who had been transported from the eastern border and made to settle in Thrace, the Emperor constructed a number of fortifications along the Bulgarian border. Constantine treated with contempt the Bulgarian ambassador to Constantinople. Following this the Bulgarians began military operations. Constantine conducted eight or nine campaigns against the Bulgarians both on land and on sea, with the aim of annihilating the Bulgarian kingdom. These expeditions continued with varying results. In the end Constantine failed to attain his goal, but some historians call him “the first Bulgar-slayer” (Bulgaroctonus)”16 because of his energetic struggle against the Bulgarians and because of the numerous fortresses he constructed against them.
Within Bulgaria dynastic troubles ceased at the end of the eighth century, and the sharp antagonism between the Bulgarians and the Slavs became less pronounced. In short, there came about the gradual formation of the Bulgaria of the ninth century, Slavonized and transformed into a powerful state with definite offensive projects as regards the Byzantine Empire. This offensive policy became evident in the late eighth century, in the time of Constantine VI and his mother Irene, when the Byzantine Empire after its military failures was forced to agree to pay tribute to the Bulgarians.
In the military collisions between the Empire and the Bulgarians of the eighth century, the Bulgarian forces included also the Slavs, who formed part of their kingdom. The occupation of the Balkan peninsula by the Slavs also continued in the eighth century. One western pilgrim to the Holy Places, a contemporary of Leo III, visited the Peloponnesian city of Monembasia and wrote that it was situated in Slavonic (Slavinian) land (in Slawinia terrae).17 There are references to the presence of Slavs in Dyrrachium and in Athens in the eighth century.18 The following well-known lines (quoted also in an earlier part of this work) in the work of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, On the Themes, refer also to the days of Constantine V: “The whole of the Peloponnesus became slavonized and barbarian when the plague spread through the entire universe.”19 The reference here is to the formidable epidemic of 746–47, imported from Italy, which especially devastated the south of Greece and Constantinople. In an attempt to rehabilitate the capital after the epidemic, Constantine transported to Constantinople people from various provinces. Even in the opinion of the population, the Peloponnesus was Slavonized as early as the middle of the eighth century; to the same period must be referred the influx of new settlements in Greece established in place of those communities whose population was either extinguished by the epidemic or taken to the capital when the effort was being made to rehabilitate it. At the end of the eighth century the Empress Irene sent a special expedition “against the Slavonic tribes,” to Greece, Thessalonica, and the Peloponnesus.20 Later these Greek Slavs took an active part in the plot against Irene. This indicates clearly that in the eighth century the Slavs in the Balkan peninsula, including all of Greece, were not only definitely and strongly established, but even participated in the political life of the Empire. By the ninth century the Bulgarians and the Slavs became two very serious enemies of the Byzantine Empire.
The internal activities of the emperors of the Isaurian or Syrian dynasty
Legislation.—Leo III was not only a gifted leader and energetic defender of his Empire against external enemies, but also a wise and capable legislator. Even in the time of Justinian the Great, in the sixth century, the Latin text of his Code, Digest, and Institutes was little, or not at all, understood in the majority of provinces. In many districts, in the east particularly, old local customs were used in preference to official statutes, as was clearly evidenced by the popularity of the Syrian Lawbook of the fifth century. The Novels(Novellae) issued in Greek dealt only with current legislation. Meanwhile, in the seventh century, as the Empire was gradually losing Syria, Palestine, and Egypt in the east, North Africa in the south, and the northern parts of the Balkan peninsula in the north, it was becoming more and more “Greek” by language. For wide and general use it became necessary to create a lawbook in Greek which would reflect all the changes in living conditions since the time of Justinian the Great.
Fully realizing the need for such a code, Leo III entrusted the task of compiling it to a commission whose members he chose personally. The efforts of this body resulted in the publication of a code entitled the Ecloga, issued in the name of the “wise and pious emperors, Leo and Constantine.” There is some uncertainty as to the exact date of its publication. Some western scholars refer it to the end of Leo’s reign (739–40),21 although the Russian Byzantinist, V. G. Vasilievsky is inclined to ascribe it to a date nearer the beginning of Leo’s reign (about the year 726).22 Recently there has even been some doubt as to whether the Ecloga may be referred to the time of Leo III and Constantine V at all.23 At present most modern students of the question set the date of publication as March, 726.24
The title of the Ecloga (meaning “selection” or “extract”) is indicative of its sources. The title runs as follows: “An abridged selection of laws, arranged by Leo and Constantine, the wise and pious kings, from the Institutes, Digest, Code, Novels of the Great Justinian, and corrected with a view to greater humanity” (in Greek, εἰς τò φιλαυθρωπóτερoν), or, as others translate this, “with a view to improvement.”25 The introduction states definitely that the decrees issued by the preceding emperors have been written in various books and that their meaning, difficult for some, is entirely incomprehensible for others, especially for those who do not live in the “God-guarded” imperial city.26 The “various books” refer to Greek translations and commentaries of Justinian’s lawbooks which were used in actual practice, frequently replacing the Latin originals. Very few people could understand these Greek translations and commentaries. The profusion of books and the variations and contradictions found in them produced considerable confusion in the civil law of the Byzantine Empire. Leo III saw clearly the existing state of affairs and made it his aim to relieve these conditions. The principles of the Ecloga, laid down in its introduction, are imbued with ideas of justice and righteousness. They maintain that judges must “refrain from all human passions and make decisions of true justice, developed by clear reasoning; they must not scorn the needy, or leave unpunished the strong man guilty of offense…. They must justly refrain from accepting gifts.” All the officials in judicial service must receive definite salaries from the imperial “pious treasury,” so that “they take nothing from any person who might come under their jurisdiction, in order that the prediction of the Prophet, They sold the righteous for silver’ (Amos, 2:6), should not come true and that we should not be visited by the wrath of God for becoming transgressors of his commandments.”27
The contents of the Ecloga, subdivided into eighteen titles, deal mainly with civil law, and only to a slight extent with criminal law. They treat of marriage, betrothal, dowry, testaments, and intestacies, of wardship, enfranchisement of slaves, witnesses, various liabilities connected with sale, purchase, rent, etc. Only one title contains a chapter of criminal law on punishments.
The Ecloga differed in many respects from the Justinian Code, and even contradicted it at times by accepting the decisions of customary law and judicial practices which existed parallel with the official legislative works of Justinian. When compared with the latter, the Ecloga represents a considerable step forward in many respects. For instance, its marriage laws included the introduction of higher Christian conceptions. True, the chapter on penalties abounds in punishments which prescribe the maiming of the body, such as cutting off a hand, tongue, or nose, or blinding the convict. But this fact does not permit one to consider the Ecloga a barbarian law, because in most cases these punishments were intended to take the place of the penalty of death. In this sense the Isaurian emperors were right in claiming that their legal accomplishments were “greater in their humanity” than the work of the preceding emperors. Also the Ecloga prescribed equal punishment to the distinguished and the common, to the rich and the poor, while the Justinian law frequently prescribed different penalties without any real basis for the discrimination. The Ecloga is distinguished by an abundance of references to the Scriptures for confirmation of different juridical principles. “The spirit of Roman Law became transformed in the religious atmosphere of Christianity.”28 Throughout the eighth and ninth centuries, until the time of the accession of the Macedonian dynasty (867), the Ecloga served as a manual for the teaching of law, taking the place of Justinian’s Institutes, and it was more than once subjected to revision; for instance, there was the Private Ecloga (Ecloga privata) and the Private Enlarged Ecloga (Ecloga privata aucta).29When, after the accession of Basil the Macedonian, a change took place in favor of Justinian law, the legislative deeds of the Isaurian emperors were officially declared to be nonsense (literally “silly talk”), which contradicted divine dogma and destroyed salutary laws.30 Still, even the emperors of the Macedonian dynasty borrowed many chapters from the condemned lawbook for their own legislative works, and even in their times the Ecloga was again revised.
It is interesting to note that the Ecloga of Leo and Constantine later formed part of the juridical collections of the orthodox church, especially in Russia. It is found in the printed Russian Kormchaia Kniga, i.e., The Book of Rules or Administrative Code, under the title, “The chapters of the wisest Tsar Leo and Constantine, the two faithful emperors.”31 There are other traces of the influence of the Ecloga upon documents of ancient Slavonic legislation.
The Ecloga can hardly be considered “an extremely daring innovation,” as was claimed by the Greek Byzantinist, Paparrigopoulo, an ardent admirer of the Isaurian emperors. “At present, when the principles advanced by the compilers of the Ecloga are accepted by the civil legislation of the most progressive nations,” he declared, “the hour has finally come to accord esteem to the genius of the men who, a thousand years ago, fought for the inauguration of doctrines which have triumphed only in our own days.”32 These are the comments of an enthusiastic Hellenic patriot, but nevertheless the modern world should recognize the high significance of the Ecloga in initiating a new period in the history of the Graeco-Roman or Byzantine law, a period which lasted until the accession of the Macedonian dynasty, when the Justinian law was restored to its former place but with many essential modifications. The Ecloga of Leo III was intended above all to meet the demands of the living realities of the period.
In connection with the Isaurian dynasty, and especially with the name of Leo III, scholars discuss three other legislative documents: the Rural Code or Farmer’s Law (νóμoζ γεωργικς), the Military Code (νóμoζ στρατιωτικς), and the Rhodian Sea Law (νóμoζ ρoδίων ναυτικς). Varying versions of these three documents usually appear in numerous surviving manuscripts after the Ecloga or after other juridical works, without indication of the names of the authors or of the time of first publication. Hence to attribute them to one time or another depends upon internal evidence, an evaluation of their contents and language, and comparison with other similar documents.
The Rural Code (νóμoζ γεωργικς) has attracted the greatest attention among the three works. The greatest authority on Byzantine law, the German scholar Zachariä von Lingenthal, changed his mind about this. He began by thinking it the work of a private hand and he assigned it to the eighth or ninth century. It was compiled, he thought, partly from the legislation of Justinian and partly from local custom.33 Later he was inclined to believe that the Rural Code was a product of the legislative activity of the Emperors Leo and Constantine, and that it was published either simultaneously with the Ecloga or soon after its appearance.34 He agreed with the Russian scholars V. G. Vasilievsky and Th. I. Uspensky who characterized this document as a collection of rural police regulations dealing with common offenses among people engaged in agriculture. It is concerned primarily with various kinds of thefts of lumber, field and orchard fruit, trespasses and oversights of herdsmen, harm done to animals, and harm done by cattle. The Russian scholar B. A. Pancenko, who made a special study of this document, called the Rural Code “a supplementary record to the customary law practiced among the peasants; it is dedicated to that law, so necessary for the peasants, which did not find its expression in legislation.”35
The work is not dated. Some scholars refer it to the epoch of Leo III. But it must be admitted that the problem is far from being definitely solved. According to Pančenko, “the need for such a law might have been felt even in the seventh century; the nature of the lawbook, barbarian and naively empirical, is closer in spirit to the time of the greatest decline of civilization than to the period of the compilation of the Ecloga.”36 It has not yet been proved that the Rural Code was issued in the eighth century, and it is possible that its publication will be found to have taken place at an earlier period. Vernadsky and Ostrogorsky stated that the Rural Code was “elaborated” under Justinian II, at the end of the seventh century.37 The last word on the subject was said by the Russian historian E. Lipshitz in 1945. After reconsidering all previous opinions, she was inclined to accept the second half of the eighth century as the most probable date of the Rural Code; in other words she confirmed the old opinion of Zachariä von Lingenthal and Vasilievsky.38
The Rural Code has also attracted the attention of scholars because it contains no reference to the colonate or serfdom which predominated in the later Roman Empire. It does contain, however, indications of various new phenomena: personal peasant property, communal landownership, the abolition of compulsory service, and the introduction of freedom of movement. These are usually connected by scholars with the extensive Slavonic settlements in the Empire, which presumably imported conditions peculiar to their own life, chiefly the commune. The proposition argued in Pančenko’s book that the Rural Code does not refer to the commune is rightly denied in modern literature. Th. I. Uspensky, however, overestimated the importance of this law when he assigned to it the significance of a general measure for the whole Empire and claimed even that it “must serve as a point of departure in the history of the economic development of the East” with regard to the free peasant class and the class of small landowners.39 This opinion might create the impression that serfdom was generally abolished in the seventh or eighth centuries, which was not really the case.40 Diehl, who in his History of the Byzantine Empire considered the Rural Code the achievement of Leo III and his son, also went rather too far in stating that it “aimed to restrain the disquieting development of the great domains, to arrest the disappearance of the small free estates, and to insure to the peasants better living conditions.”41
The English scholar W. Ashburner edited, translated, and thoroughly investigated the Rural Code, although he knew no Russian and was therefore unacquainted with the results of the Russian investigations. Ashburner was inclined to agree with Zachariä von Lingenthal that the Farmer’s Law, as it stands, forms part of the legislation of the iconoclasts and that it is to a great extent a compilation of existing customs. But at the same time Ashburner differed from Zachariä von Lingenthal in three important particulars: (1) the origin of the law; (2) the legal position of the agricultural class under the law; and (3) the economic character of the two forms of tenancy to which it refers. The relationship of the Rural Code to the Ecloga, he maintained, is not as close as Zachariä von Lingenthal would make it, and he believed that in the state of society described by the Rural Code the farmer could migrate freely from place to place. He agreed with the German scholar, however, that the “style of command” of this law suggests that it was not a product of private hands but a work of legislative authority.42
The theory of the exceptional influence of the Slavs upon the internal customs of the Byzantine Empire, given weight by the authority of Zachariä von Lingenthal and supported by outstanding Russian scholars in the field of Byzantine history, has come to occupy a firm place in historical literature. In addition to the general accounts of Slavonic settlements in the Empire, these scholars used as the main basis for their theory the fact that the conception of small free peasantry and the commune were foreign to Roman law; hence they must have been introduced into Byzantine life by some new element, in this case the Slavonic. V. N. Zlatarsky recently supported the theory of Slavonic influence on the Rural Code, which he referred to Leo III, and explained it by Leo’s Bulgarian policy. Leo saw that the Slavs under his power were very much tempted to pass over to the Bulgarians and conclude with them a Bulgaro-Slavonic alliance. Therefore he introduced into his law Slavonic manners and customs, hoping thereby to render conditions more attractive to the Slavs.43 But a closer study of the codes of Theodosius and Justinian, of the Novels of the latter, and, in recent times, of the data of papyrology and the lives of saints, distinctly proves that there existed in the Roman Empire villages populated by free landholders, and that communal landownership was in existence in very early times. No general conclusion, therefore, can be made on the basis of the Rural Code; it may serve only as another evidence of the fact that in the Byzantine Empire the small freepeasantry and the free rural commune existed parallel with serfdom. The theory of Slavonic influence must be discarded and attention should be turned to the study of the problem of small free peasantry and the village commune in the period of the early and later Roman Empire on the basis of both new and old materials which have not been sufficiently utilized.44
In recent times there have been several interesting attempts to compare the Rural Code with the texts of the Byzantine papyri,45 but on the basis of the mere resemblance in phraseology, very striking at times, no definite conclusions should be made with regard to any borrowing. Such a resemblance, declared Mr. Ashburner, only proves what needs no proof: that lawyers of the same epoch use the same phrases.46
The Rural Code is of great interest from the point of view of Slavonic studies. An Old Russian translation of this code forms part of a compilation of the greatest value in contents and historical significance, bearing the title of The Lawbook by Means of Which All Orthodox Princes Have to Regulate All Affairs. The famous Russian canonist, A. S. Pavlov, produced a critical edition of this Russian version of the Rural Code. The latter is found also in the old Serbian juridical books.
In manuscripts of legal works the Sea Law and the Military Law are frequently appended to the Ecloga or other legal documents. Both laws are undated; but on the basis of certain deductions, which do not, however, finally solve the problem, they are referred by some scholars to the period of the Isaurian dynasty.
The Maritime Law (υóμoς υα ναυτικς, leges navales), or, as it is sometimes called in manuscripts, the Rhodian Sea Law, is a statute regulating commercial navigation. Some scholars suppose that this law was extracted from the second chapter of the fourteenth book of the Digest, which contains an almost exact borrowing from Greek law of the so-called “Rhodian Law of Jettison,” lex Rhodia de jactu, dealing with the division of losses between the owner of the ship and the owners of the cargo in cases where part of the cargo had to be thrown overboard in order to save the vessel. At present the dependence of the Rhodian Law on the Digest, as well as its connection with the Ecloga, which has been emphasized by Zachariä von Lingenthal, is not accepted by scholars.47
The form in which this law has come down to us was compiled from materials of very different epochs and natures; most of it must have been derived from local customs. Ashburner said that Part III of the Sea Law was evidently intended to be a part of Book LIII of the Basilics,48 and inferred that a second edition of the Sea Law was made either by or under the direction of the men who compiled the Basilics, The texts which exist today represent in substance the second edition.49
In style the Maritime Law is of a rather official character, while in contents it differs greatly from the Digest of Justinian because it apparently reflects some influence of later times. Thus, for example, this law fixes the liability on the part of the shipowner, the lessee merchant, and the passengers for the safety of the ship and the cargo. In case of storm or piracy they were all expected to make good the losses. This provision was intended to serve as a sort of insurance, and, together with other peculiar rulings, resulted from the fact that from the time of Heraclius in the seventh century maritime commerce and navigation in general were greatly endangered by the sea raids of Arabian and Slavic pirates. Piracy became such a habitual phenomenon that the shipowners and merchants could continue their commercial enterprises only by assuming a common risk.
The time of the compilation of the Sea Law can be determined only approximately. It was probably put together unofficially between 600 and 800 A.D. In any case, there is no reason for attributing a common origin to the three books, the Sea Law, the Rural Code, and the Soldier’s Law.50
In spite of the return of the Macedonian dynasty to the standards of the Justinian law, the Sea Law persisted in actual practice and influenced some of the Byzantine jurists of the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries. This survival indicates that Byzantine trade navigation did not recover after the seventh and eighth centuries. The Italians, who later monopolized the trade of the Mediterranean Sea, had their own sea statutes. With the decline of Byzantine sea commerce the Maritime Law became obsolete, so that there are no references to it in the juridical documents of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.51
The Military Law or Soldier’s Law (νóμoζ στρατιωτικς, leges militares) is an extract from the Greek paraphrases of Justinian’s Digest and Code, the Ecloga, and several other sources which were added to the law in later times. It consists mainly of an enumeration of penalties inflicted upon men in military service for such offenses as mutiny, disobedience, flight, adultery. The punishments provided are extremely harsh. If the opinion of scholars that it belongs to the time of the Isaurian dynasty52 were correct, it would give an excellent indication of the strictness of the military discipline introduced by Leo III. But unfortunately the scanty information does not support a positive statement that the law belongs to this period. In fact, all that has been said on the Rural Code, the Sea Law, and the Military Law must be summed up by stating that not one of these three small codes can be regarded with certainty as the work of the Isaurian emperors.53
The themes.—The majority of scholars, beginning with Finlay, refer the reorganization and completion of the provincial theme system which originated in the seventh century, to the eighth century, sometimes to the time of Leo III in particular. Finlay wrote: “A new geographical arrangement into themes … was reorganized by Leo and endured as long as the Byzantine government.”54 Gelzer was particularly categorical in this regard. “Leo definitely removed the civil officials and transferred the civil power in the provinces into the hands of military representatives.”55 Th. I. Uspensky wrote: “Only in the time of Leo the Isaurian does an abrupt turn take place in the direction of strengthening the power of the theme strategus at the expense of the civil administration of the province.”56But the fact still remains that no information exists on Leo’s achievements in the field of provincial organization. There exists a list of themes with some references to their organization, which belongs to the Arabian geographer of the first half of the ninth century, Ibn-Khurdadhbah (Ibn-Khordadhbeh).57 Upon comparing his data with the data on the themes of the seventh century, scholars have reached some conclusions with regard to certain changes in the eighth century in the time of the Isaurian dynasty. It appears that in Asia Minor, in addition to the three themes of the seventh century, two new themes were created in the eighth century, probably in the time of Leo III: (1) the Thracesian theme in the western part of Asia Minor, formed from the western districts of the vast theme of the Anatolics and named after the European garrisons from Thrace stationed there, and (2) the theme of the Bucellarians in the eastern part of the vast Opsician theme (Opsikion), which derived its name from the Bucellarians, i.e., some Roman and foreign troops employed by the Empire or by private individuals. Constantine Porphyrogenitus said that the Bucellarians followed the army, supplying it with provisions.58 Thus toward the beginning of the ninth century Asia Minor had five themes, to which the sources pertaining to this period refer as the “five eastern themes” (for instance, under the year 803).59 On European territory there were apparently only four provinces by the end of the eighth century: Thrace, Macedonia, Hellas, and Sicily. But if the question of the number of themes in Asia Minor in the early part of the ninth century may be considered settled, the problems of the complete removal of civil authorities and the transfer of their functions to the military governors still remain uncertain. The decisive role of Leo III in the theme organization cannot be proved; it is merely a hypothesis.60
The completion and extension of the system of themes under the Isaurian dynasty was indissolubly connected with the external and internal dangers which threatened the Empire. The formation of the new themes by dividing the immense territories of the earlier themes was dictated by political considerations. By his own experience Leo knew very well how dangerous it was to leave too large a territory in the hands of an all-powerful military governor, who could revolt and lay claim to the imperial title. Thus the external danger required the strengthening of the centralized military power, especially in the provinces menaced by the enemies of the Empire—the Arabs, Slavs, and Bulgarians; and on the other hand, the internal danger from the too-powerful military governors (strategi), whose loose dependence on the central power often resembles vassal relations, made it imperative to reduce the extensive stretches of territory under their rule.
Desiring to increase and regulate the financial income of the Empire, indispensable for his varied undertakings, Leo III raised the poll tax in Sicily and Calabria by one-third of its original amount; in order to carry out this measure effectively he ordered that a record be kept of the birth of all male children. The chronicler, who is hostile to the iconoclasts, compared this order with the treatment accorded by the Egyptian Pharaoh to the Jews.61 Near the end of his reign Leo III levied upon all the subjects of the Empire a tax for the repair of the walls of Constantinople which had been destroyed by frequent and violent earthquakes. That this task was completed in his time is evidenced by the fact that many inscriptions on the towers of the inner walls of Constantinople bear the names of Leo and his son and coemperor, Constantine.62
Religious controversies and the first period of lconoclasm
The history of the Iconoclastic63 movement falls into two periods. The first lasted from 726 to 780 and ended officially with the Seventh Ecumenical Council; the second lasted from 813 to 843 and ended in the so-called “restoration of orthodoxy.”
The study of the iconoclastic epoch affords great difficulties because of the present condition of sources. All the works of the iconoclasts, the imperial decrees, the acts of the iconoclastic councils of the year 753–54 and 815, the theological treatises of the iconbreakers, etc., were destroyed by the triumphant image-worshipers. Some survivals of iconoclastic literature are known to us only by fragments introduced into the works of the image-worshipers for the purpose of refuting them. Thus, the decree of the iconoclastic council of 753–54 has been preserved in the acts of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, though perhaps not in its complete original form. The decree of the council of 815 has been discovered in one of the treatises of Patriarch Nicephorus, while numerous fragments of iconoclastic literature are found in the polemic and theological treatises of the antagonists of the movement. Particularly interesting in this respect are the three famous Treatises Against Those Who Depreciate the Holy Images of the renowned theologian and hymn-writer, John Damascene (of Damascus), a contemporary of the first two iconoclastic emperors. In order to disseminate their ideas, the iconoclasts sometimes resorted to the writing of spurious works. The surviving sources on iconoclasm, then, are biased by hostility to the movement; hence in later times scholars have differed greatly in their estimate of the iconoclastic period.
Scholars have turned their attention first of all to the question of the causes for the movement against images, which lasted with some intervals for over one hundred years with very serious consequences to the Empire. Some students of this period have seen in the policy of the iconoclastic emperors religious causes, while others have believed that the causes were chiefly political. It was thought that Leo III determined to destroy images because he hoped that this measure would remove one of the chief obstacles to a closer relationship of the Christians with the Jews and Muhammedans, who disapproved of icons. He is credited with believing that a closer religious kinship with these two denominations would facilitate their subjugation to the Empire. A very thorough study of the iconoclastic period has been made by the well-known Greek historian, Paparrigopoulo, whose biased views with regard to the Ecloga have been pointed out. According to him it is incorrect to apply the term “iconoclastic” to this epoch because it does not fully define the period. His belief is that parallel with the religious reform which condemned images, prohibited relics, reduced the number of monasteries, and yet left the basic dogmas of the Christian faith intact, there was also a social and political reform. It was the intention of the iconoclastic emperors to take public education out of the hands of the clergy. These rulers acted, not from personal or dynastic whims, but on the basis of mature and extended deliberations, with a clear understanding of the needs of society and the demands of public opinion. They were supported by the most enlightened element of society, by the majority of the high clergy, and by the army. The final failure of the iconoclastic reforms should be attributed to the fact that there were still many people devotedly attached to the old faith, and hence extremely antagonistic to the new reforms. This group included chiefly the common people, women, and the enormous number of monks. Leo III was apparently unable to educate the people in the new spirit.64 Such, in brief, are the views of Paparrigopoulo with regard to this epoch; but there is no doubt that he exaggerated when he regarded the reform activities of the emperors of the eighth century as a remarkable attempt at a social, political, and religious revolution. Still, he was the first scholar to point out the complexity and importance of the iconoclastic period, thus inducing others to pay closer attention to it. There were some who believed that the iconoclastic policy of the emperors was prompted by both religious and political considerations, with a decided predominance of the latter; they maintained that Leo III, desirous of being the sole autocratic ruler in all aspects of life, hoped, by prohibiting the worship of images, to liberate the people from the strong influence of the church, which used image-worship as one of its strongest tools in securing the allegiance of the laity. Leo’s final ideal was to attain unlimited power over a religiously united people. The religious life of the Empire was to be regulated by the iconoclastic policy of the emperors, which was intended to aid these rulers in the realization of their political ideals “surrounded by the halo of reformatory zeal.”65 In more recent times some scholars (the Frenchman Lombard, for instance) began to view iconoclasm as a purely religious reform which aimed to arrest “the progress of the revival of paganism” in the form of excessive image-worship, and “restore Christianity to its original purity.” Lombard believed that this religious reform developed parallel with the political changes, but had a history of its own.66 The French Byzantine scholar, Bréhier, called particular attention to the fact that iconoclasm involves two distinctly different questions: (1) the habitually discussed question of image-worship itself, and (2) the problem of the legality of religious art, i.e., the question as to whether or not it was permissible to resort to art as a means of depicting the supernatural world, and of representing the Saints, the Holy Virgin, and Jesus Christ. In other words, Bréhier brought to the fore the question of the influence of iconoclasm upon Byzantine art.67 Finally, C. N. Uspensky shifted the emphasis from iconoclasm to the policy of the government against the rise and growth of monasterial landownership. He wrote:
Leo’s administrative measures were basically and essentially directed from the very beginning against the monasteries, which toward the eighth century came to occupy a very unnatural position in the empire. In its fundamental aims the policy of Leo III was not based upon any religious considerations, but the persecuted monastic groups, the defenders of monastic feudalism, found it to their advantage to transfer the dispute to theological grounds in order to be able to claim that the activity of the emperors was atheistic and heretical, thus discrediting the movement and undermining the confidence of the masses in their emperor. The true nature of the movement was thus skillfully disguised and can be rediscovered only with very great effort.68
In view of these varied opinions, it is evident that the iconoclastic movement was an extremely complex phenomenon; and unfortunately the condition of the sources still prevents its clarification.69
In the first place, all the iconoclastic emperors were of eastern origin: Leo III and his dynasty were Isaurians, or perhaps Syrians; the restorers of iconoclasm in the ninth century were Leo V, an Armenian, and Michael II and his son Theophilus, born in the Phrygian province of central Asia Minor. The restorers of image-worship were both women, Irene and Theodora, Irene of Greek descent and Theodora from Paphlagonia in Asia Minor, a province on the coast of the Black Sea bordering Bithynia and at no great distance from the capital. Neither of them, that is, came from the central parts of the peninsula. The place of origin of the iconoclastic rulers cannot be viewed as accidental. The fact of their eastern birth may aid in reaching a clearer understanding of both their part in the movement and the meaning of the movement itself.
The opposition to image-worship in the eighth and ninth centuries was not an entirely new and unexpected movement. It had already gone through a long period of evolution. Christian art in representing the human figure in mosaics, fresco, sculpture, or carving had for a long time unsettled the minds of many deeply religious people by its resemblance to the practices of forsaken paganism. At the very beginning of the fourth century the Council of Elvira (in Spain) had ruled “that there must be no pictures (picturas) in the church, that the walls should have no images of that which is revered and worshipped” (ne quod colitur et adoratur in parietibus depingatur).70
In the fourth century, when Christianity received legal sanction and later became the state religion, the churches were beginning to be embellished with images. In the fourth and fifth centuries image-worship rose and developed in the Christian church. Confusion with regard to this practice persisted. The church historian of the fourth century, Eusebius of Caesarea, referred to the worship of images of Jesus Christ and the apostles Peter and Paul as “a habit of the Gentiles.”71 Also in the fourth century Epiphanius of Cyprus related in a letter that he had torn in pieces a church curtain (velum) with the image of Jesus Christ or one of the saints, because it “defiled the church.”72 In the fifth century a Syrian bishop, before he was ordained to his high post, denounced icons. In the sixth century a serious upheaval in Antioch was directed against the worship of pictures, and in Edessa the rioting soldiers flung stones at the miraculous image of Christ. There were instances of attacks upon images and of the destruction of some icons in the seventh century. In western Europe the bishop of Massilia (Marseilles) at the end of the sixth century ordered that all icons be removed from the churches and destroyed. Pope Gregory I the Great wrote to him praising him for his zeal in advocating that nothing created by human hands should serve as an object of adoration (nequid manufactum adorari posset), but at the same time reprimanding him for the destruction of the images since thereby he had taken away all chance for historical education from people who are ignorant of letters but “could at least read by looking at the walls what they cannot read in books.”73 In another letter to the same bishop the pope wrote: “In that thou forbadest them to be adored, we altogether praise thee; but we blame thee for having broken them…. To adore a picture is one thing (picturam adorare), but to learn through the story of the picture what is to be adored, is another.”74 In the opinion of Gregory the Great and many others, then, images served as a means of popular education.
The iconoclastic tendencies of the eastern provinces were somewhat influenced by the Jews, whose faith forbade image-worship, and who at times attacked any form of such worship with great violence. A similar influence began to be exerted from the second half of the seventh century by the Muslims, who, guided by the words of the Koran, “Images are an abomination of the work of Satan” (V. 92), viewed icon-worship as a form of idolatry. It is frequently stated by historians that the Arabian caliph Yazid II issued a decree in his state three years before Leo’s edict by which he prescribed the destruction of images in the churches of his Christian subjects; the authenticity of this story, without much basis for the doubt, is sometimes questioned.75 In any event, Muhammedan influence upon the eastern provinces should be taken into consideration in any study of the anti-image movement. One chronicler refers to Emperor Leo as “the Saracen-minded” (σαρακηνóφρων),76 although in reality there is very little basis for claiming that he was directly influenced by Islam. Finally, one of the widely known Eastern medieval sects, the Paulicians, who lived in the east-central part of Asia Minor, was also strongly opposed to image-worship. Briefly, in the eastern Byzantine provinces of Asia Minor there had grown up by the time of Leo III a strong iconoclastic movement. One of the Russian church historians, A. P. Lebedev, wrote: “It may be positively asserted that the number of iconoclasts before the iconoclastic period [in the eighth century] was large, and that they were a force of which the church itself had ample reason to be afraid.”77 One of the main centers of the iconoclastic movement was Phrygia, one of the central provinces in Asia Minor.
Meanwhile image-worship had spread very widely and grown very strong. Images of Jesus Christ, the Holy Virgin, and various saints, as well as pictures of scenes from the Old and New Testaments, were used in profusion for decorating Christian temples. The images placed in various churches of this period were either mosaics, frescoes, or carvings in ivory, wood, or bronze— in other words, they were both painted images and statue images, while many small pictures were reproduced in illuminated manuscripts (miniatures). Particularly great was the reverence for the so-called “icons not made by human hands,” which, in the belief of the faithful, were supposed to possess miraculous powers. Images found their way into family life, for icons were sometimes chosen as godfathers for children, and embroidered images of saints decorated the parade dress of the Byzantine aristocracy. The toga of one of the senators bore embroidered pictures representing the history of the entire life of Jesus Christ.
The image-worshipers sometimes took the adoration of pictures too literally, adoring not the person or the idea represented by the image, but the image itself or the material of which it was made. This fact was a great temptation for many of the faithful, to whom this adoration of inanimate objects appealed because of its kinship with pagan practices. “In the capital,” according to N. P. Kondakov, “there was at the same time a characteristic increase in the number of monasteries, monastic communes, and convents of all kinds which multiplied very rapidly and reached incredible proportions by the end of the eighth century (perhaps, more correctly, toward the eighth century).”78 In the opinion of I. D. Andreev, the number of Byzantine monks in the iconoclastic period may be estimated without any exaggeration at 100,000. “Remembering,” said this scholar, “that in Russia of today [this is written in 1907], with its 120,000,000 population spread over a vast territory, there are only about 40,000 monks and nuns, it is easy to imagine how dense must have been the net of monasteries covering the comparatively small territory of the Byzantine Empire.”79
And while, on the one hand, the worship of ordinary and miraculous icons and relics confused many people who had grown up under the prevailing influences of the period, the excessive development of monachism and the rapid growth of monasteries, on the other hand, clashed with the secular interests of the Byzantine state. In view of the fact that large numbers of healthy young men embraced the spiritual life, the Empire was losing necessary forces from its army, agriculture, and industry. Monachism and the monasteries frequently served as a refuge for those who wished to escape governmental duties; hence many of the monks were not men who had been prompted to retire from worldly affairs by a sincere desire to follow higher ideals. Two aspects in the ecclesiastical life of the eighth century should be distinguished—the religious and the secular.
The iconoclastic emperors, born in the East, were well acquainted with the religious views prevalent in the eastern provinces; they grew up with these views and were closely identified with them. Upon ascending the Byzantine throne they brought their views to the capital and made them the basis of their church policy. These emperors were neither infidels nor rationalists, as used to be maintained. On the contrary, they were men of a sincere and convinced faith, and desired to purge religion of those errors which permeated it and diverted it from its true original course.80 From their point of view, image-worship and the adoration of relics were both survivals of paganism which had to be abolished at all costs in order to restore the Christian faith to its original pure form. “I am emperor and priest,” wrote Leo III to Pope Gregory II.81 With this claim as a point of departure, Leo III considered it his legal right to make his own religious views compulsory for all his subjects. This attitude cannot be viewed as an innovation. It was the accepted caesaropapistic view of the Byzantine emperors particularly prevalent in the time of Justinian the Great, who had also considered himself the sole authority in spiritual as well as in temporal matters. Leo III, too, was a convinced representative of the idea of Caesaropapism.
The first nine years of Leo’s reign, devoted to repelling external enemies and to establishing the security of the throne, were not marked by any measures with regard to images. The ecclesiastical activity of the Emperor during this period was expressed only in his demand that the Jews and the eastern sect of Montanists be baptized.
Only in the tenth year of his rule, i.e., in the year 726, did the Emperor, according to the chronicler Theophanes, “begin to speak of the destruction of the holy and all-honoured icons.”82 The majority of contemporary scholars believe that the first edict against images was promulgated in 726 or perhaps 725. Unfortunately the text of this decree is unknown.83 Soon after the proclamation of the edict Leo ordered the destruction of the venerated statue of Christ situated above one of the doors of the Chalke, as the magnificent entrance to the imperial palace was called. The destruction of this icon caused a riot, in which the main participants were women. The imperial officer delegated to destroy the image was killed, but his murder was avenged by the Emperor’s severe punishment of the defenders of the statue. These victims were the first martyrs of icon worship.
Leo’s hostility toward image worship aroused very strong opposition. The patriarch of Constantinople, Germanus, and Gregory II, the pope of Rome, were strongly opposed to the policy of the Emperor. In Greece and on the islands of the Aegean Sea a revolt broke out in defense of images. Although this was quickly suppressed by Leo’s army, this strong reaction on the part of the population made it impossible for him to undertake further decisive measures.
Finally, in the year 730, the Emperor convoked a sort of council where another edict against sacred images was promulgated. It is highly probable that this council did not produce a new edict, but merely restored the decree of the year 725 or 726.84 Germanus, who refused to sign this decree, was deposed and forced to retire to his estate, where he spent the last years of his life peacefully. The patriarchal chair was filled by Anastasius, who willingly signed the edict. Thus, the decree against images was now issued not only on behalf of the Emperor, but also in the name of the church, since it was sanctioned by the signature of the patriarch. This authority was of great value to Leo.
Concerning the period which followed the proclamation of this edict, namely, the last eleven years of Leo’s reign, sources are silent with regard to the persecution of images. Apparently there were no instances of ill treatment. In any event, systematic persecution of images in the reign of Leo III is out of the question. At most, there were only a few isolated instances of open image destruction. According to one scholar, “In the time of Leo III there was rather a preparation to persecute images and their worshipers than actual persecution.”85
The assertion that the image-breaking movement of the eighth century began, not by the destruction of images, but by hanging them higher up, so as to remove them from the adoration of the faithful, must be disregarded, for the majority of images in Byzantine churches were painted frescoes or mosaics which could not be removed or transferred from the church walls.
Leo’s hostile policy against images has found some reflection in the three famous treatises “Against Those Who Depreciate the Icons,” by John Damascene, who lived in the time of the first iconoclastic emperor within the boundaries of the Arabian caliphate. Two of these treatises were written, in all likelihood, in the time of Leo. The date of the third one cannot be determined with any degree of accuracy.
Pope Gregory II, who opposed Leo’s policy of image-breaking, was succeeded by Pope Gregory III, who convoked a council in Rome and excluded the iconoclasts from the church. Following this step, middle Italy detached itself from the Byzantine Empire and became completely controlled by papal and western European interests. Southern Italy still remained under Byzantine sway.
Quite different was the picture in the reign of Constantine V Copronymus (741–75), the successor of Leo III. Educated by his father, Constantine followed a very determined iconoclastic policy and in the last years of his reign, initiated the persecution of monasteries and monks. No other iconoclastic ruler has been subjected to so much slander in the writings of the iconodules as this “many-headed dragon,” “cruel persecutor of the monastic order,” this “Ahab and Herod.” It is very difficult, therefore, to form an unprejudiced opinion of Constantine. It is with some exaggeration that E. Stein called him the boldest and freest thinker of all eastern Roman history.86
The Council of 754 and its aftermath.—At the time of Constantine’s accession the European provinces were still devoted to icon worship, while those of Asia Minor had among their population a large number of iconoclasts. Constantine spent the first two years of his reign in constant struggle with his brother-in-law Artavasdus, who was leading a rebellion in defense of images. Artavasdus succeeded in forcing Constantine to leave the capital, and was proclaimed emperor. During his year of rule over the Empire he restored image worship. Constantine succeeded, however, in deposing Artavasdus and he reclaimed the throne and severely punished the instigators of the revolt. Yet the attempt of Artavasdus demonstrated to Constantine that icon worship might be restored without great difficulties, and it forced him to take more decisive steps to strengthen the validity of iconoclastic views in the conscience of the masses.
With this aim in view Constantine decided to convoke a council which would work out the foundations of an iconoclastic policy, sanction its validity, and thus create among the people the conviction that the Emperor’s measures were just. This council, attended by more than three hundred bishops, convened in the palace of Hieria on the Asiatic shore of the Bosphorus facing Constantinople. It gathered in the year 754.87 The members of the council did not include any patriarchs, for the see of Constantinople was vacant at that time, while Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria refused to participate, and the papal legates also failed to appear at the sessions. In later times these facts were used as a sufficient basis by opponents of this council for claiming that its decisions were invalid. Several months after the opening of the sessions the council was transferred to Constantinople, where the election of a new patriarch had meanwhile taken place.
The decree of the council of 754, which has been preserved in the acts of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (perhaps in parts and in a somewhat modified form), definitely condemned image worship by proclaiming the following:
Supported by the Holy Scriptures and the Fathers, we declare unanimously in the name of the Holy Trinity, that there shall be rejected and removed and cursed out of the Christian Church every likeness which is made out of any material whatever by the evil art of painters. Whoever in the future dares to make such a thing or to venerate it, or set it up in a church or in a private house, or possesses it in secret, shall, if bishop, priest or deacon, be deposed, if monk or layman, anathematised and become liable to be tried by the secular laws as an adversary of God and an enemy of the doctrines handed down by the Fathers.
Besides the general significance of this proclamation for image-worship, this decree is notable also for prescribing that persons guilty of icon worship should be tried by imperial laws, thus placing the iconodules under the jurisdiction of temporal power. This fact was later used by the members of the Seventh Ecumenical Council as an explanation of the extraordinary harshness manifested by some emperors with regard to the church and to the monks. Anathema was proclaimed for any person who “ventures to represent the divine image of the Logos after the incarnation with material colours … and the forms of the saints in lifeless pictures with material colours which are of no value, for this notion is erroneous and introduced by the devil.” The decree ends with the following: “To New Constantine and the most pious, many years! … To the most pious and orthodox [empress] many years! … You have established the dogmas of the Holy Six Ecumenical Councils. You have destroyed all idolatry.” … Anathema was proclaimed against the Patriarch Germanus, the “worshiper of wood,” and Mansur, i.e., John Damascene, “inclined to Muhammedanism, the enemy of the Empire, the teacher of impiety, the perverter of the Scriptures.”88
The unanimous decree of the council made a very strong impression upon the people. “Many who had been troubled by a vague impression of the error of the iconoclasts,” said Professor Andreev, “could now grow calm; many who had formerly wavered between the two movements could now, on the basis of the convincing argument of the council decisions, form decisive iconoclastic views.”89 The mass of the people were required to give oath that they would forsake the worship of images.
The destruction of images, after the council, became ruthlessly severe. Images were broken, burned, painted over, and exposed to many insults. Particularly violent was the persecution of the cultus of the Blessed Virgin.90 Many image-worshipers were executed, tortured, or imprisoned, and lost their property. Many were banished from the country and exiled to distant provinces. Pictures of trees, birds, animals, or scenes of hunting and racing replaced the sacred images in the churches. According to the Life of Stephen the Younger, the church of the Holy Virgin at Blachernae in Constantinople, deprived of its former magnificence and covered with new paintings, was transformed into a “fruit store and aviary.”91 In this destruction of painted icons (mosaics and frescoes) and statues many valuable monuments of art have perished. The number of illuminated manuscripts destroyed was also very large.
The destruction of images was accompanied also by the destruction of relics. Time has preserved a satire of the iconoclastic period on the excessive adoration of relics in which the author speaks of ten hands of the martyr Procopius, of fifteen jaws of Theodore, of four heads of George, etc.92
Constantine V displayed extreme intolerance toward the monasteries and initiated a crusade against the monks, those “idolaters and lovers of darkness.”93 His struggle with monachism was so intense that some scholars find the question of a more accurate definition of the reforms of this period somewhat debatable, claiming that it is difficult to determine whether it was a struggle against images or a fight directed against the monks; C. N. Uspensky stated definitely that “historians and theologians have purposely distorted the reality of facts by advancing the ‘iconomachia,’ rather than the ‘monacho-machia,’ of the period.”94 The persecutions of monks expressed itself in many severe measures. They were forced to put on secular dress, and some were compelled to marry by force or threats. In one instance they were forced to march in file through the hippodrome, each holding a woman by the hand, amid the sneers and insults of the crowd of spectators. The chronicler Theophanes relates that a governor in Asia Minor assembled the monks and nuns of his province at Ephesus and said to them, “Let each who wishes to obey the Emperor and us put on the white dress and take a wife immediately; those who do not do so shall be blinded and exiled to Cyprus,” and he was congratulated by Constantine V, who wrote: “I have found in you a man after my own heart who carries out all my wishes.”95 Cyprus apparently was one of the emperor’s places of exile for recalcitrant monks. It is recorded that five monks managed to escape from there, reached the territory of the caliphate, and were brought to Bagdad.96 Monasteries were taken away from the monks and transformed into barracks and arsenals. Monasterial estates were confiscated. Laymen were forbidden to take refuge in the cowl. All these regulations led to a wide migration of monks to districts unaffected by the Emperor’s iconoclastic persecutions. According to some scholars, in the time of Leo and Constantine Italy alone received about 50,000 of these refugees.97This event was of enormous significance for the fate of medieval southern Italy, for it upheld there the predominance of the Greek nationality and the Orthodox church. But even southern Italy was apparently not altogether free from iconoclastic troubles. At least there is a very interesting indication that in the ninth century A.D. St. Gregory the Decapolite fell into the hands of an iconoclastic bishop of the south-Italian city of Hydrus (now Otranto).98 Many monks migrated also to the northern shores of the Euxine (the Black Sea), and to the coast of Syria and Palestine. Among the martyrs who suffered under Constantine V, Stephen the Younger is particularly famous.
During the reign of Leo IV the Khazar (775–80) the internal life of the Empire was calmer than under his father Constantine V. Although Leo, too, was an adherent of iconoclasm, he felt no acute enmity towards the monks, who once more regained a certain amount of influence. In his brief reign he did not manifest himself as a fanatical iconoclast. It is very likely that he was influenced to some extent by his young wife, Irene, an Athenian who was famous for her devotion to image-worship and to whom all image-worshipers of the empire turned hopeful faces. “His moderate attitude in the icon controversy,” Ostrogorsky explained, “was an appropriate transition from the tactics of Constantine V to the restoration of the holy images under the Empress Irene.”99 With Leo’s death in 780 ended the first period of iconoclasm. Because his son, Constantine VI, was a minor, the rule of the Empire was entrusted to Irene, who was determined to restore image worship.
In spite of her definite leanings toward image-worship, Irene did not undertake any decisive measures in the direction of its official restoration during the first three years of her reign. This postponement was due to the fact that all the forces of the Empire had to be directed to the internal struggle with the pretender to the throne and to the external fight with the Slavs who lived in Greece. Furthermore, the restoration of icon-worship had to be approached with great caution, because the major part of the army was favorably inclined to iconoclasm, and the canons of the iconoclastic council of 754 declared by Constantine as imperial laws continued to exert a certain amount of influence upon many people in the Byzantine Empire. It is quite likely, however, that many members of the higher clergy accepted the decrees of the iconoclastic council by compulsion rather than by conviction; hence they constituted, according to Professor Andreev, “an element which yielded readily to the reformatory operations of the iconoclastic emperors, but which would not form any real opposition to the measures of an opposite tendency.”100
In the fourth year of Irene’s reign the see of Constantinople was given to Tarasius, who declared that it was necessary to convoke an ecumenical council for the purpose of restoring image-worship. Pope Hadrian I was invited to attend and to send his legates. The council gathered in the year 786 in the Temple of the Holy Apostles. But the troops of the capital, hostile to icon-worship, rushed into the temple with drawn swords and forced the assembly to disperse. It seemed that the iconoclastic party had triumphed once more, but it was only for a brief period. Irene skillfully replaced the disobedient troops by new soldiers, more loyal to her ideals.
In the following year (787) the council convened in the Bithynian city of Nicaea, where the First Ecumenical Council had been held. Seven meetings of the council, from which the Emperor and Empress were absent, took place in Nicaea. The eighth and last assembly was held in the imperial palace at Constantinople. The number of bishops who came to this council exceeded three hundred. This was the seventh and last ecumenical council in the history of the eastern church.
Image-worship was restored by the decree of this council. The adoration of holy images was confirmed, and those who disagreed with the ruling of the council were anathematized. Excommunication was also proclaimed for those “who called the holy images idols and who asserted that the Christians resort to icons as if the latter were Gods, or that the Catholic church had ever accepted idols.” The bishops of the council acclaimed “a New Contamine and a New Helen.”101 It was ruled that relics had to be placed in all of the restored temples from which these necessary attributes of an orthodox church were absent. The transformation of monasteries into common dwellings was severely condemned, and orders were issued to restore all the monasteries abolished and secularized by the iconoclasts. The council devoted much of its attention to raising the morality of the clergy by condemning the buying of church offices for money (simony), etc. It also prohibited the existence of mixed monasteries (for both sexes).
The great importance of the Nicene Council does not lie only in the restoration of image-worship. This council created for the iconodules the organization which they had lacked in their early struggle with their opponents; it collected all theological arguments in favor of images, which could later be used by the iconodules in their disputes with the iconoclasts. In brief, the council provided for the iconodule party a weapon which facilitated all future struggles with their antagonists when the second period of the iconoclastic movement set in.
The so-called “iconoclastic” activities of the emperors of the eighth century were only one, and perhaps not the most important, aspect of that period. For most of the data on this period comes from the later one-sided literary tradition of the triumphant icon-worshiping party which destroyed practically all the iconoclastic documents. But owing to some occasional and scattered information which has survived one may conclude that the main energy of Leo III and Constantine V was directed toward the secularization of large monasterial landed property and the limitation of the enormous number of monks, that is to say, against the elements which, by escaping state control and by functioning with almost complete independence, were undermining the vital forces and unity of the Empire.
The coronation of Charles the Great and the significance of this event for the Byzantine Empire
“The coronation of Charles is not only the central event of the Middle Ages; it is also one of those very few events of which, taking them singly, it may be said that if they had not happened, the history of the world would have been different.”102 At present this event is important primarily because it concerned the Byzantine Empire.
In the conception of the medieval man the Roman Empire was a single empire, so that in previous centuries two or more emperors were viewed as two rulers governing one state. It is wrong to speak of the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the year 476. The idea of a single empire lay behind the militaristic policy of Justinian in the sixth century, and this idea was still alive in the year 800, when the famous imperial coronation of Charles the Great occurred in Rome.
While theoretically the conception of a single empire still prevailed in the ideology of the Middle Ages, in actual reality this conception was obsolete. The eastern or Byzantine Graeco-Slavic world of the late eighth century and the western Romano-Germanic world of the same period were, in language, in ethnographical composition, and in cultural problems, two distinctly different, separate worlds. The idea of a single empire was out of date and is a historical anachronism from the modern point of view, though not in the opinion of the Middle Ages.
Iconoclasm contributed its share toward preparing the event of 800. The papacy, which energetically protested against the iconoclastic measures of the Byzantine emperors and excommunicated the iconoclasts, turned to the West in the hope of finding friendship and defense in the Frankish kingdom among the rising major-domos (mayors of the palace), and later the kings of the Carolingian house. At the end of the eighth century the Frankish throne was occupied by the most famous representative of this house, Charles the Great or Charlemagne. Alcuin, a scholar and teacher at his court, wrote him a famous letter in June 799:
Hitherto there have been three exalted persons in the world. (The first is) the Apostolic sublimity who rules in his stead the see of the blessed Peter, the chief of the Apostles…. Another is the imperial dignitary and secular possessor of the second Rome; but the report of how wickedly the ruler of that empire was dethroned, not through aliens but through his own citizens,103 spreads everywhere. The third is (the possessor of) the royal dignity which the will of our Lord Jesus Christ has bestowed upon you as a ruler of the Christian people, more excellent in power than the other dignitaries, more famous in wisdom, more sublime in the dignity of the kingdom. You are the avenger of crimes, the guide of those who have gone astray, the consoler of those who are in distress; it is given to you to exalt the good.104
The mutual interests of the pope and the king of the Franks which eventually led to the coronation of the latter is a complex question, variously regarded in historical literature. The event itself is well known. On Christmas Day of the year 800, during the solemn service in the Church of St. Peter, Pope Leo III placed the imperial crown upon the head of the kneeling Charles. The people present in the church proclaimed “To Charles, the most pious Augustus crowned by God, to the Great and Peace-giving, many years and victory!”
Scholars have expressed differing opinions on the significance of Charles’ acceptance of the imperial rank. Some have believed that the title of emperor gave him no new rights and that in reality he still remained, as before, only “a king of the Franks and Lombards, and a Roman patrician”;105that is, that in receiving the crown Charles assumed only a new name. Others have thought that through the coronation of Charles in the year 800 a new western empire was created which was entirely independent of the existence of the Eastern or Byzantine Empire. To regard the event of 800 in either of these ways would mean to introduce into this analysis the opinions of later times. At the end of the eighth century there was not, and could not be, any question of a “titulary” emperor, or of the formation of a separate western empire. The coronation of Charles must be analyzed from a contemporary point of view, i.e. as it was looked upon by the participants of the event, by Charles the Great and Leo III.
Neither of these rulers intended to create a western empire which would counterbalance the Eastern Empire. Charles was undoubtedly convinced that upon receiving the title of emperor in the year 800 he became the sole ruler and the continuator of the single Roman Empire. The event meant only that Rome had reclaimed from Constantinople the right of imperial election. The mind of that time could not conceive of the simultaneous existence of two empires; in its very substance the Empire was single. “The imperial dogma of a sole empire rested upon the dogma of a sole God, since only in his capacity of God’s temporary deputy could the emperor exercise divine authority on earth.”106 The prevailing conditions of this period facilitated the popular acceptance of this view of imperial power, and it was the only view possible at the time.
Relations between Charles and the Byzantine Emperor had begun long before 800. In 781 a marriage had been arranged between Rotrud, Charles’ daughter, whom the Greeks called Eruthro, and Constantine, Emperor of Byzantium, at that time about twelve years old, whose mother Irene was the real ruler of the Empire.107 A western historian of the period, Paul the Deacon, wrote to Charles: “I rejoice that your beautiful daughter may go across the seas and receive the sceptre in order that the strength of the kingdom, through her, be directed to Asia.”108
The fact that in the Byzantine Empire in the year 797 Irene dethroned the legal emperor, her son Constantine, and became the autocratic ruler of the Empire, was in sharp contradiction to the traditions of the Roman Empire, where no woman had ever ruled with full imperial authority. From the point of view of Charles and Pope Leo, then, the imperial throne was vacant, and in accepting the imperial crown Charles ascended this vacant throne of the undivided Roman Empire and became die legal successor, not of Romulus Augustulus, but of Leo IV, Heraclius, Justinian, Theodosius, and Constantine the Great, the emperors of the eastern line. An interesting confirmation of this view is found in the fact that in western annals referring to the year 800 and to subsequent years, where events were recorded by the years of Byzantine emperors, the name of Charles follows immediately after the name of Constantine VI.
If such was the view of Charles with regard to his imperial rank, then what was the attitude of the Byzantine Empire to his coronation? The Eastern Empire, too, treated it in accordance with the prevailing views of the period. In upholding Irene’s rights to the throne, the Byzantine Empire looked upon the event of 800 as one of the many attempts of revolt against the legal ruler, and feared, not without reason, that the newly proclaimed emperor, following the example of other insurgents, might decide to advance toward Constantinople in order to dethrone Irene and seize the imperial throne by force. In the eyes of the Byzantine government this event was only a revolt of some western provinces against the legal ruler of the empire.109
Charles was of course fully aware of the precariousness of his position and of the fact that his coronation did not settle the question of his rule over the eastern part of the empire. The German historian P. Schramm, who called Charles’ coronation “an act of violence which infringed on the rights of the Basileus,” pointed out the fact that Charles did not name himself “Emperor of the Romans,” the official title of the Byzantine emperors, but “imperium Romanum gubemans”110 Charles realized that after Irene the Byzantine Empire would elect another emperor, whose right to the imperial title would be recognized as indisputable in the East. Anticipating complications, Charles opened negotiations with Irene by proposing marriage to her, hoping “thus to unite the Eastern and Western provinces.”111 In other words, Charles understood that his title meant very little unless recognized by the Byzantine Empire. Irene received the marriage proposal favorably, but shortly after she was dethroned and exiled (in the year 802) so that the project was never executed.
After Irene’s fall the Byzantine sceptre came into the hands of Nicephorus, and between Charles and Nicephorus negotiations were carried on, probably in regard to the recognition of Charles’ imperial title. But it was not until the year 812 that the legates of the Byzantine Emperor Michael I Rangabé saluted Charles at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen) as emperor. This finally legalized the imperial election of the year 800. It is also perhaps from the year 812 that as a counterpoise to the title yielded to Charlemagne, the title “Emperor of the Romans” (Bασιλενζ τῶν ‘Pωμαίων) began to be used officially in Byzantium, designating the legitimate sovereign of Constantinople, as the symbol of supreme power of the Byzantine emperors.112 From the year 812 onward there were two Roman emperors, in spite of the fact that in theory there was still only one Roman Empire. “In other words,” said Bury, “the act of 812 A.D. revived, in theory, the position of the fifth century. Michael I and Charles, Leo V and Lewis the Pious, stood to one another as Arcadius to Honorius, as Valentinian III to Theodosius II; the imperium Romanum stretched from the borders of Armenia to the shores of the Atlantic.”113 It is self-evident that this unity of the Empire was purely nominal and theoretical. Both empires led distinctly different lives. Furthermore, the very idea of unity was being forgotten in the West.
The imperial rank obtained by Charles for the West was not long lived. During the ensuing troubles, followed by the disintegration of Charles’ monarchy, the title fell to casual holders. It disappeared completely in the first half of the tenth century, only to rise again in the second half, but this time in its unhistorical form of “The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.”
Only after the year 800 is it possible to speak of an Eastern Roman Empire, and J. B. Bury did this by entitling the third volume of his History of the Byzantine Empire, which embraces events from 802 (the year of Irene’s fall) to the beginning of the Macedonian dynasty, A History of the Eastern Roman Empire, while the first two volumes of his work bear the title of A History of the Later Roman Empire.
Summary of the activities of the Isaurian dynasty
Historians place much value upon the services of the first rulers of the Isaurian line, particularly upon the achievements of Leo III, and justly so, for the latter, having ascended the throne after a highly troubled period of anarchy, showed himself to be an eminent general, a gifted administrator, and a wise legislator who understood the problems of his time. The religious policy of the iconoclasts stands quite apart from their other activities. In most of the historical writings Leo III is praised very highly. For instance, the Greeks recognize him “as one of the greatest rulers of the Eastern Empire, and one of the benefactors of humanity,”114 the Germans, “as one of the greatest men on the imperial throne,” who clearly understood the need for “radical reform at the head and in the members,”115 “a man who was destined to restore the empire by means of iron and blood, a person of great military genius.”116 An English scholar referred to Leo’s achievements as “the regeneration of the Roman Empire,”117 while a French historian characterized the deeds of the Isaurian emperors as “one of the very greatest and most admirable efforts that has ever been made for raising the moral, material, and intellectual level of the people,” and compared the importance of their “sweeping attempt at organization with the measures undertaken by Charles the Great.”118 In recent times Charles Diehl made the statement that “from the government of the Isaurian emperors a new principle of life sprung forth, which was to enrich the world forever.”119 In the somewhat casual estimates of Russian scholars, who, with the exception of the church historians, have not yet made any attempts at a detailed study of the general history of the Isaurian emperors, there is no excessive praise for these rulers. The three volumes of J. A. Kulakovsky deal only with events up to the epoch of the iconoclastic emperors. The first volume of Lectures in Byzantine History, by S. P. Shestakov, which covers this period, does not contain any estimate. A very interesting and fresh appraisal of the antimonasterial and antimonastic movement is found in the Outlines of C. N. Uspensky. Finally, Th. I. Uspensky remarked: “Leo the Isaurian is responsible for the rather rude manner with which the delicate problem of faith and worship of God was left by the government to the military and police authorities, who offended the religious feeling of the people and made of the local problem an event of state importance.”120
While recognizing unusual energy and some administrative genius on the part of the first two iconoclastic emperors, and admitting that Leo III unquestionably saved the Empire, one must, on the basis of all the available historical materials, abstain from excessive praise of the Isaurian dynasty. For their policy, no matter how sincere on their part, introduced great internal troubles into the life of the Empire, which was seriously disturbed for more than a hundred years. Even in its first period in the eighth century the iconoclastic movement alienated Italy and brought about very strained relations with the pope, who excommunicated the iconoclasts and turned to the West for aid and protection. The resulting friendship with the Frankish rulers initiated a new and extremely significant period of medieval history. At the same time the foundation for the future final rupture between the churches was gradually being laid. During the Isaurian period the Byzantine Empire lost middle Italy, including the Ravenna exarchate, which was conquered in the middle of the eighth century by the Lombards and later handed over to the pope by Pippin the Short.
However, no complete history of the Isaurian dynasty has yet been written, and many significant problems of this period still remain unsolved. For example, the question of the reduction of the number of monks and monasteries and of the apparently frequent secularization of monasterial lands calls for investigation. A more thorough study of the social aspect of the iconoclastic policy of the Isaurian emperors is at present one of the essential problems of Byzantine history. Careful research into this question may throw much new light upon the entire so-called “iconoclastic” epoch and disclose in it more profound meaning and still greater universal historical significance.
SUCCESSORS OF THE ISAURIANS AND THE AMORIAN OR PHRYGIAN DYNASTY (820–67)
The emperors from 802 to 86y and their origin
The time from the beginning of the ninth century until the accession of the Macedonian dynasty in the year 867 has been viewed by historians as a transitional period from the epoch of the revival of the Empire under the Isaurian emperors to the brilliant time of the Macedonian emperors. But the most recent studies show that this period is not a mere epilogue and is much more than a prologue. It appears to have an importance of its own and signifies a new phase in Byzantine culture.121
The revolution of the year 802 deposed Irene and raised Nicephorus I (802–11) to the Byzantine throne. According to oriental sources, Nicephorus was of Arabian origin.122 One of his ancestors must have migrated into Pisidia, a province in Asia Minor, where Nicephorus was later born. The revolution of 802 was in its nature very rare in the annals of Byzantine history. An overwhelming majority of political uprisings in the Byzantine Empire were organized and led by military generals, leaders of the army. The case of Nicephorus was an exception to this general rule, for he was in no way connected with the army and held only the high post of minister of finance. This emperor fell in battle with the Bulgarians in the year 811, and the throne passed, for a few months, to his son Stauracius, who had also been severely wounded in the Bulgarian campaign. Stauracius died in the same year (811), but even before his death he was deposed in favor of the curopalates Michael I, a member of the Greek family of Rangabé, married to Procopia, a sister of the unfortunate Strauracius and a daughter of Nicephorus I. But Michael I also ruled only for a short period of time (811–13), for he was deposed, chiefly because of his unsuccessful campaign against the Bulgarians, by the military commander Leo, an Armenian by birth, known in history as Leo V the Armenian (813–20). In the year 820 Leo V was killed and the throne passed to one of the commanders of the guards, Michael II (820–29), surnamed the “Stammerer.” He came from the fortress of Amorion in Phrygia, a province of Asia Minor; hence his dynasty (820–67), represented by three rulers, is called the Amorian or Phrygian dynasty. He was a coarse and ignorant provincial who had spent his youth in Phrygia “among heretics, Hebrews, and half-hellenized Phrygians.”123 One late Syrian source asserts even that he was a Jew by birth.124 When he died the throne passed to his son, Theophilus (829–42), who was married to the famous restorer of orthodoxy, Theodora, from Paphlagonia in Asia Minor. The last member of this dynasty was their son, the corrupt and incapable Michael III (842–67), who has come down through the ages with the despicable surname of “Drunkard.”
No Byzantine emperor has been so badly treated, both in Byzantine tradition and in later literature, as this Michael III “the Drunkard,” “a Byzantine Caligula.” His incredible frivolity, his persistent drunkenness, his horrible impiety and abominable scurrility have been many times described. Recently, however, H. Grégoire opened an especially vigorous campaign to restore Michael’s reputation. He pointed out many facts of Michael’s epoch, particularly the energetic and successful fighting against the eastern Arabs, and he declared that this last sovereign of the Amorian dynasty possessed the temperament of a genius and truly inaugurated the triumphant phase of Byzantine history (843–1025).125 One cannot go quite so far as Grégoire in characterizing Michael as a genius; indeed, since he was assassinated at the age of twenty-eight, perhaps he did not live long enough to show the extent of his powers. While he possessed some highly undesirable qualities, it should be asserted that he had energy and initiative, and in addition—and this is probably more important—he managed to choose and keep near him talented and able advisers and executives. Grégoire has justly emphasized the deep impression left in popular tradition and popular songs by Michael’s successful military activities against the eastern Arabs. His victory in the north over the Russians in 860–61 left an equally deep trace.126
During the minority of Michael III his mother Theodora was the official ruler of the Empire for fourteen years; she entrusted all government affairs to her favorite, Theoctistus. When Michael came of age he ordered that Theoctistus be killed, compelled his mother to take holy orders, and assumed the rule of the Empire. This drastic change was instigated and led chiefly by Bardas, uncle of the Emperor and brother of Theodora, who soon rose to the highest ranks of curopalates and Caesar, and became very influential in all government affairs. An Arab ambassador who had an audience with Michael has left an interesting picture of his complete indifference in state affairs. The ambassador wrote: “I did not hear a single word from his lips from the time of my arrival till my departure. The interpreter alone spoke, and the Emperor listened and expressed his assent or dissent by motions of his head. His uncle managed all his affairs.”127 Highly gifted in many ways, Bardas successfully fought the enemies of the Empire and showed a clear understanding of the interests of the church. He honestly strove to spread more light and education among his people. But he, too, was treacherously killed through the intrigues of the new court favorite, Basil, the future founder of the Macedonian dynasty. After Bardas’ death Michael adopted Basil and crowned him with the imperial crown. Their joint rule lasted only a little over a year, for Basil, suspecting that Michael was plotting against him, persuaded some friends to kill his benefactor after one of the court feasts. Basil then became the sole ruler of the Empire and the founder of the most famous dynasty in Byzantine history.
Thus during the period from 802 until 867 the throne was occupied by two Arabs or Semites; by one Greek, Michael I, married to the daughter of Nicephorus I, an Arabian; by one Armenian; and finally, by three Phrygians, or one might almost say, half-Greeks. It was the first time in Byzantine history that the Byzantine throne had fallen into the hands of the Semitic race. It is evident that during this period eastern elements played a very important part in the rule of the Empire.
External relations of the Byzantine Empire
Arabs and Slavs and the insurrection of Thomas the Slavonian.—In the ninth century hostile relations between the Byzantine Empire and the Arabs were almost incessant. On the eastern land borderline these relations assumed the aspect of reiterated collisions which occurred with almost annual regularity and were accompanied by frequent exchanges of prisoners. On the Muhammedan side of the border a line of fortifications, intended as a defense against the attacks of the Byzantine army, was erected from Syria to the confines of Armenia. Similar fortified cities were to be found on the Byzantine side. All the fortifications formed a sort of limes in Asia Minor. Only in very few instances did the collisions along the eastern border in the ninth century assume the aspect of serious campaigns deep into the country. Parallel with the gradual political decline and weakening of the caliphate in the ninth century, which came as a result of serious internal disturbances and the predominance of Persians, and later of Turks, the continuous attacks of the Muslims upon the Byzantine Empire from the East ceased to threaten, as they did in the seventh and eighth centuries, the very existence of the Empire. These attacks continued, however, to bring great harm to the border provinces by injuring the prosperity of the population, by reducing their taxpaying ability, and by killing many of the inhabitants. The first thirty years of the ninth century were crowned by the reigns of the famous caliphs, Harun-ar-Rashid (786–809) and Mamun (813–33), under whom Persian influence enjoyed almost exclusive predominance and forced Arabian nationality into the background. In their political ideas the caliphs of the ninth century, particularly Mamun, resembled the Byzantine emperors in that they believed their authority to be unlimited in all phases of the life of their state.
Although the Arabo-Byzantine collisions in the East, with very few exceptions, did not result in any serious consequences for either side, the operations of the Muslim fleet in the Mediterranean Sea, which led to the occupation of Crete, the greater part of Sicily, and a number of important points in southern Italy, were of exceedingly great significance.
One of the interesting situations in the Arabo-Byzantine relations of the first half of the ninth century was the participation of the Arabs in the insurrection of Thomas during the reign of Michael II. This insurrection was organized in Asia Minor, by Thomas, a Slav by birth, and assumed the proportions of a grave civil war, which lasted for a period of over two years. It was the central event of the time of Michael II and is of much interest from the political and religious, as well as the social, point of view. Politically it was significant because Thomas succeeded in gaining over to his side all of Asia Minor excepting the troops of two themes. Under his standards, according to some sources, were gathered various nationalities of Asia Minor and the borderlands of the Caucasus. Besides his own kinsmen, the Slavs, who had formed some immense colonies in Asia Minor after their mass migrations from the European continent, the army of Thomas included Persians, Armenians, Iberians, and members of several other Caucasian tribes.128 Thomas stood at the head of such a powerful force that Caliph Mamun did not hesitate to form a close alliance with him to aid him in deposing Michael, for which the Arabs were promised certain Byzantine border territories. With the consent of, or at the instance of, Mamun, Thomas was crowned at Antioch as basileus of the Romans by Job, the patriarch of the city, and the Byzantine Emperor had to face a very dangerous and formidable rival. The eastern Arabs were apparently greatly interested in the development of this insurgent movement.
From the religious point of view the insurrection is very interesting because Thomas utilized the discontent of the large part of the population aroused by the renewed iconoclastic policy, and announced that he was an adherent of image-worship, claiming even to be Constantine, the son of Irene who had restored orthodoxy in an earlier period. This policy won over numerous supporters.
Some social strife resulted from this movement. Thus, in Asia Minor the tax collectors sided with Thomas, and there was, according to one source, an uprising of “slaves against masters.”129 The lower classes rose against their oppressors, the landowners, in a desire to build a better and brighter future for themselves. According to the same source, the ensuing civil war, “like some bursting cataracts of the Nile, flooded the earth, not with water, but with blood.”130
Supported by the fleet in the Aegean Sea, Thomas directed his forces against Constantinople. On his way he easily overcame the resistance offered by Michael’s troops, and he besieged the capital both on land and on sea. When he arrived at the European shores the Slavs of Thrace and Macedonia joined his forces. The siege of Constantinople lasted a full year. Michael was very hard pressed, but he triumphed as a result of two events. On the one hand, he succeeded in defeating Thomas’ fleet; on the other, he was aided by the Bulgarians, who appeared unexpectedly in the north under the leadership of their king, Omurtag, and defeated the land forces of the insurgents. Thomas could not regain his former strength and was doomed to fail. He was forced to flee, and was later captured and executed; the remnants of his forces were easily destroyed. This complicated revolution, which lasted for more than two years, was completely extinguished in the year 823, and Michael could then feel fairly secure on his throne.131
For the Byzantine Empire the outcome of this insurrection was of considerable importance. Its failure was also a failure to restore image-worship. The defeat of Thomas meant also the defeat of Caliph Mamun in his offensive projects against the Byzantine Empire. Furthermore, this uprising in all probability created very serious social changes in Asia Minor. In the sixth century under Justinian the Great the system of large landed estates cultivated by peasants in a servile condition flourished widely in the Empire. In sources of subsequent centuries there are some references to small holdings and small peasant landowners. In the tenth century, however, the predominance of large landownership reappeared once more, particularly in Asia Minor. This may have been a result of Thomas’ uprising, which undoubtedly caused the ruin of a large number of small landowners who were unable to meet the heavy government taxes and were thus forced to transfer their property to their wealthy neighbors. Whatever the cause, the reappearance of large estates in the tenth century began to threaten even the power of the Emperor. This was particularly true in Asia Minor.132
Until the end of the thirties of the ninth century the Byzantine clashes with the Arabs had no serious consequences. At this time the caliphate was undergoing great internal disturbances, which were furthered at times through the skillful interference of the Byzantine government. The son of Michael II, Theophilus, was defeated in Asia Minor in 830, but in the following year (831) gained a victory in Cilicia over an Arab army of frontier troops and for his success received a brilliant triumph in Constantinople.133 The ensuing years were not very successful for Theophilus. An Arab historian even says that Mamun looked forward to the entire subjugation of the Empire.134 Theophilus sent Mamun an envoy bearing proposals of peace. But in 833 Mamun died and was succeeded by his brother Mutasim. During the first years of his rule there was a suspension of hostilities. In 837 Theophilus reopened an offensive which was extremely successful. He captured and burned the fortress of Zapetra and invaded some other places. He received for this success a triumph which was a repetition of the pageants and ceremonial which had attended his return six years before.135In 838, however, Mutasim equipped a large army which penetrated deep into Asia Minor and after a long siege occupied the important fortified city of Amorion in Phrygia, the birthplace of the ruling dynasty, “the eye and foundation of Christianity,” in the exaggerated words of the Arabian chronicle. Mutasim expected to march upon Constantinople after his successful occupation of Amorion, but he was forced to give up his plans and return to Syria when he received alarming news of a military conspiracy at home.136
In the annals of the Greek Church the siege of Amorion is connected with the miraculous story of forty-two distinguished prisoner martyrs who, on their refusal to embrace Islam, were led to the banks of the Tigris and beheaded. Their bodies were thrown into the river, but miraculously floated on top of the water; they were then rescued from the river by some Christians and given solemn burial.137
The disaster of Amorion made a very strong impression upon Theophilus. He lost all hope of effectively resisting the Arabian attacks with his own forces, and, fearing to lose the capital, he turned to the western states for help. His ambassadors appeared in Venice; in Ingelheim at the court of the Frankish king, Lewis the Pious; and even in the far west, in Spain, at the Court of the Umayyad emir. The western rulers all received the ambassadors in a friendly manner, yet they gave Theophilus no active assistance.
During the remaining period of the Amorian dynasty, in the later years of Theophilus’ reign and the reign of Michael III, internal strife within the caliphate prevented the eastern Arabs from renewing serious campaigns against the Byzantine Empire. Indeed, on several occasions Byzantine troops succeeded in defeating the Arabs. In the year 863 Omar, the emir (governor) of Melitene, sacked the Byzantine city of Amisus (Samsun) on the shore of the Black Sea, and, infuriated by the fact that the sea put a bound to his further advance, he was said, like Xerxes, to have scourged the water. But in the same year, on his return, he was intercepted and surrounded by Byzantine troops under the command of Petronas. The battle of Poson took place (the location of this has not been identified with any exactness) and the Arab forces were almost annihilated and Omar himself was slain.138 This brilliant victory of Byzantine arms resounded in the Hippodrome in Constantinople, and a special chant, which has been preserved in the sources, celebrated the death of the emir on the field of battle.139
The first Russian attack on Constantinople.—Amid these annual conflicts with the Arabs, the sources suddenly began to speak of the first attack of the “Ros,” or the Russians, upon Constantinople. Until comparatively recent times this event was referred by the great majority of historians to the year 865 or 866, and it was frequently connected with the campaign of the Russian princes, Ascold and Dir. But since 1894, when a short anonymous chronicle found in Brussels was published by the Belgian scholar, Franz Cumont, this opinion has been recognized as erroneous. This chronicle gives very exact information: the Russians approached Constantinople in two hundred vessels on the eighteenth of June of the year 860, but were heavily defeated and lost many of their ships.140 Some scholars were doubtful about the earlier dating of this event long before the publication of the anonymous chronicle, and on the basis of various chronological calculations were inclined to believe that 860 was the correct date. Thus, the famous Italian scholar of the eighteenth century, Assemani, set the date of this first attack of the Russians at the end of 859 or early in 860, although later scholars completely forgot the result of his investigation.141 Fourteen years before the appearance of the anonymous chronicle of Brussels, and entirely independent of Assemani, the Russian church historian, Golubinsky, also arrived at the conclusion that this attack took place either in 860 or at the very beginning of 861.142
In one of his sermons, Patriarch Photius, a contemporary of this event, referred to the Russians as the “Scythian, coarse and barbarian people,” and to their attack as a “barbarous, obstinate, and formidable sea,” a “terrible northern storm.”143
Struggles with the western Arabs.—At the same time as the eastern military operations, the Empire was also struggling with the western Arabs. North Africa, conquered by the Arabs with so much difficulty in the seventh century, soon freed itself from the domination of the eastern caliphs, so that after the year 800 the Abbasid caliphs ceased to exercise any authority in the provinces west of Egypt, and an independent Aghlabid dynasty, which possessed a powerful fleet, rose in Tunis in the early part of the ninth century (in 800).
All the Byzantine possessions in the Mediterranean Sea were seriously menaced by the Arabs during this period. Even in the early part of the ninth century, in the time of Nicephorus I, the African Arabs aided the Peloponnesian Slavs in their uprising and the siege of the city of Patrae (Patras). During the reign of Michael II the Byzantine Empire lost the strategically and commercially important island of Crete, which was captured by Arabian emigrants from Spain, who had first sought shelter in Egypt and then advancedto Crete. The leader of these Arabs founded a new city on this island and surrounded it by a deep moat, handak in Arabic, from which the new name of the island, Chandax, or Candia, originated.144 From then on Crete became the nest of piratical bands which raided and devastated the islands of the Aegean Sea and the seacoast districts, causing thus great political and economic disturbances in the Byzantine Empire.
Still more serious for the Byzantine Empire was the loss of Sicily. As early as the seventh and eighth centuries this island had become subject to Arabian attacks, although these were not very serious. But in the time of the Amorian dynasty conditions changed. At the end of the reign of Michael II a man named Euphemius organized an uprising against the Emperor and was later proclaimed the ruler of the Empire. He soon realized that his own forces were not sufficient to resist the imperial troops, and appealed for aid to the African Arabs. The latter arrived in Sicily; but instead of aiding Euphemius, they began the conquest of the island, and Euphemius was killed by adherents of the Emperor.145 In the opinion of an Italian historian, Gabotto, Euphemius was a dreamer, an idealist, a valiant fighter for the independence of his country, and a continuator of the traditional policy of creating in Italy an independent state, “the Roman Italian Empire” (Impero romano italiano). Gabotto’s characterization of Euphemius, however, is not confirmed by the evidence.146 The Arabs became established in Panormos (Palermo) and gradually occupied the greater part of Sicily, including Messina, so that by the end of the reign of the Amorian dynasty, of all the large Sicilian cities, only Syracuse remained in the hands of the Christians. From Sicily the most natural step for the Arabs was to advance into the Byzantine territories in southern Italy.
The Apennine peninsula has at its southern extremity two small peninsulas: the one in the southeast was known in antiquity as Calabria, and the other in the southwest as Bruttium. In the Byzantine period a change occurred in these names. From the middle of the seventh century Bruttium was used less and less frequently, and became gradually replaced by the name of Calabria, which thus began to be applied to both small peninsulas; in other words, Calabria then signified all of the Byzantine possessions in southern Italy around the Gulf of Tarentum.147
The political position in Italy in the ninth century appears as follows: The Byzantine Empire retained Venice, the greater part of Campania, with the Duchy of Naples and two other duchies, as well as the two small southern peninsulas. Venice and Campania were only slightly politically dependent upon the Byzantine Empire, for they had an autonomous government of their own. The south of Italy was directly subject to the Empire. The greater part of Italy was in the hands of the Lombards. At the end of the seventh century the Lombard Duke of Beneventum won Tarentum from the Byzantine Empire; thus he reached as far as the shores of the Gulf itself and separated the two Byzantine districts from one another so that after this conquest the two smaller peninsulas could communicate only by sea. After the Italian conquests of Charles the Great and his imperial coronation in Rome the entire Apennine peninsula, except the Byzantine territories, was formally placed under the authority of the western Emperor; in reality, however, his power in the south did not reach any further than the borders of the papal state and the Duchy of Spoleto. The Duchy of Beneventum remained an independent state.
Contemporary with the gradual conquest of Sicily, the Arabian fleet also began to raid the Italian shores. The occupation of Tarentum in the time of Theophilus was a grave and direct menace to the Byzantine provinces in southern Italy. The Venetian fleet which came to the aid of the Emperor in the Gulf of Tarentum suffered a heavy defeat. Meanwhile the Arabs occupied the important fortified city of Bari on the eastern shore of the peninsula, and from there directed their conquests of the inner Italian districts. The western emperor, Lewis II, came there with his army, but was defeated and forced to retreat. At the same time, in the forties of the ninth century, Arabian pirates appeared at the mouth of the Tiber and threatened Rome, but upon capturing rich spoils, they departed from the old capital. The Roman basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul, situated outside the city walls of Rome, were damaged greatly during this attack.
In summary, the Arabo-Byzantine contacts during the period of the Amorian dynasty resulted in failure in the West for the Byzantine Empire. Crete and Sicily were lost; the former only until 961, the latter forever. A number of important points in southern Italy also passed into the hands of the Arabs, although by the middle of the ninth century these did not form a large continuous territory. The results of the struggle with the Arabs along the eastern border were very different. Here the Empire succeeded in keeping its territories almost intact. The few insignificant changes along this border had no bearing upon the general course of events. In this respect the efforts of the Amorian dynasty were of much importance to the Empire, because for a period of forty-seven years the emperors of this line were able to withstand the aggressive operations of the eastern Arabs and preserve, on the whole, the integrity of Byzantine territory in Asia Minor.
The Byzantine Empire and the Bulgarians in the epoch of the Amorian Dynasty.—At the beginning of the ninth century the Bulgarian throne was occupied by Krum, an able warrior and wise organizer, who proved to be extremely dangerous to the Byzantine Empire. Nicephorus, having sensed in him a powerful enemy capable of gaining over to his side the Slavonic population of Macedonia and Thessaly, transferred many colonists from other parts of the Empire to these two provinces. By this measure, which, according to one source, aroused much dissatisfaction among the emigrants, the Emperor hoped to avert the danger of an alliance between the Bulgarians and the Slavs of the before named provinces.148
In the year 811, after several clashes with the Bulgarians, Nicephorus undertook a large expedition against Krum, during which he was lured with his army into ambush and defeated very severely. Nicephorus himself fell in battle, his son Stauracius was seriously wounded, and the army was almost completely annihilated. Since the famous battle near Hadrianople in the year 378, during which Valens had been killed on the field of action against the Visigoths, there had been no other instance before Nicephorus of the death of an emperor in battle with the barbarians. Krum made a bowl out of the skull of the dead emperor and the “Bulgarian boliads” (nobles)149 were forced to drink from it.
In 813 Krum also defeated Michael I, who advanced against him at the head of an army so powerful that even the Asiatic forces had been withdrawn from the eastern frontier to strengthen it. But the numerical superiority of the Byzantine troops was of no avail; they were decisively beaten and put to a flight that was arrested only when they reached the walls of Constantinople. In the same year, soon after the rise of Leo V the Armenian to the Byzantine throne, Krum carried the offensive to Constantinople, besieging the city in order “to fix his lance on the Golden Gate” (the walls of Constantinople), as one source put it.150 Here, however, his successful progress was checked. He died suddenly, affording the Empire a temporary respite from the Bulgarian menace.151
One of the immediate successors of Krum, Omurtag, “one of the most eminent figures in the early history of Bulgaria,”152 in the time of Leo V concluded with the Byzantine Empire a peace agreement to last for thirty years. The agreement dealt mainly with the problem of defining the border lines between the two states in the province of Thrace. Traces of these lines can be seen even today in the shape of some remains of earthen fences.153 After peace was definitely concluded with the Bulgarians, Leo V reconstructed some of the ruined cities of Thrace and Macedonia. He also erected a stronger new wall around the capital for a surer defense against possible future Bulgarian attacks.
Later Bulgaro-Byzantine relations were not marked by any outstanding events until the early fifties of the ninth century, when the Bulgarian throne passed into the hands of Boris (Bogoris; 852–889), whose name is closely connected with the accounts of the conversion of the Bulgarians to Christianity.
The Christian faith had found its way into Bulgaria long before the time of Boris, primarily through the Byzantine captives taken by the Bulgarians during their battles with the imperial troops. The pagan Bulgarian khans severely persecuted “the perverted and the perverters.” Th. I. Uspensky asserted that “there is no doubt that Christianity began to spread in Bulgaria very early. . . . Even as early as the eighth century there were a number of Christians in the palaces of the princes. The struggles between the Christian and pagan parties were responsible for many of the troubled events in Bulgarian history, as well as for the frequent change of khans.”154
The conversion of Boris to Christianity was prompted by the political situation in Bulgaria, which forced him to seek closer relations with the Byzantine Empire. Greek clergy came to Bulgaria to spread Christianity among the natives. About the year 864 King Boris was baptized and assumed the name of Michael, and soon after, his people also adopted Christianity. The story that the two famous Slavonic missionaries, the brothers St. Cyril and St. Methodius, participated directly in the baptism of Boris is not confirmed by authentic evidence. The fact that Bulgarians received baptism from the hands of the Byzantine clergy did much to increase the prestige and influence of the Byzantine Empire in the Balkan peninsula. Boris, however, soon realized that the Empire was not willing to grant the Bulgarian church complete independence. He wished to keep the right of guiding the spiritual life of Bulgaria, and he feared also that his kingdom might become politically dependent upon the Byzantine Empire. Boris decided to form an ecclesiasticalalliance with Rome. He sent a delegation to Pope Nicholas I asking him to send Latin priests to Bulgaria. The pope was very glad to comply with this request. Latin bishops and priests soon came to Bulgaria, and the Greek clergy was driven out. The pope’s triumph was short-lived, however, for Bulgaria soon turned again to the Greek church, but this event occurred later, in the time of the Macedonian dynasty.155
While the relations between Constantinople and Rome were very strained at the time of the religious waverings of Boris, still there was no open breach in the church. The requests sent by Boris to the Greek and Latin clergy did not signify a choice of either Orthodoxy or Catholicism. Officially the church of this period was still a single universal church.
The second period of iconoclasm and the restoration of orthodoxy. The separation of churches in the ninth century
The first emperors of the period 802–67 were not iconoclastic in their policies, and it seemed almost that image-worship, restored by Irene, might gradually grow stronger and not become subject to new trials. The policy of Nicephorus was one of religious tolerance combined with the idea of temporal domination over the church. Although he recognized the decisions of the Council of Nicaea and the victory of the image-worshipers, he was not an ardent follower of the latter movement. To the true zealots of image-worship the tolerant policy of Nicephorus seemed as bad as heresy. It is very probable that religious questions interested the Emperor very little. They mattered only in so far as they concerned the state. Yet monasticism experienced some anxious moments in the time of Nicephorus, especially when the highly respected Patriarch Tarasius, beloved by all his people, was replaced by the new Patriarch Nicephorus, who was raised to his high rank by the will of the Emperor directly from among laymen. This election was strongly opposed by the famous Theodore of Studion and his followers, the Studites, who were later sent into exile.
Michael I Rangabé ruled only for a short period (811–13) and was under the constant influence of the patriarch and the monks. He was an obedient son of the church and defender of its interests. During his reign Theodore and the Studites were recalled from exile.
A quarter of a century had elapsed since the time Irene had restored image-worship, but the iconoclastic movement was still alive in the eastern provinces of Asia Minor and in the ranks of the army. In 813, Leo, a military chief of Armenian birth, assumed the imperial title. In the time of his predecessors Leo enjoyed great authority as a gifted general and was careful to conceal his iconoclastic views; but as soon as he deposed Michael Rangabé and strengthened his own position on the throne he began to advance openly an iconoclastic policy. One source credits the Emperor with these words: “You see that all emperors who had accepted images and worshiped them died either in exile or in battle. Only those who had not adored images died a natural death while they still bore their imperial rank. These emperors were all placed in imperial sepulchers with high honors and buried in the temple of the Apostles. I want to follow their example and destroy images, so that, after my long life and the life of my son are over, our rule shall continue until the fourth and fifth generation.”156
The iconoclastic measures of Leo V were vehemently opposed by Patriarch Nicephorus, who was later deposed by the Emperor. The rank of archbishop of Constantinople was conferred upon Theodotus, who was in complete agreement with Leo’s religious policy. In the year 815 a second iconoclastic council was gathered in the temple of St. Sophia in Constantinople. The acts of this council were destroyed after the restoration of icon worship, but its decree has been preserved in one of the apologetic works of Patriarch Nicephorus, and has been published.157
“Having established and confirmed the divinely accepted doctrine of the Holy Fathers and in accordance with the six Holy Ecumenical Councils,” this council “condemned the unprofitable practice, unwarranted by tradition, of making and adoring images, preferring worship in spirit and truth.” The decree further indicated that with the change of masculine rule to feminine (Irene), “female simplicity” restored the adoration of “dead figures” and “lifeless icons,” the lighting of candles and burning of incense. The council prohibited “the unauthorized manufacture of pseudonymous icons of the catholic church,” rejected the adoration of images as confirmed by Patriarch Tarasius, and condemned the lighting of candles and lamps, as well as the offering of incense before images. Essentially this decree was a repetition of the basic ideas of the iconoclastic council of 754, whose acts it confirmed. The council stated that it was prohibited to adore images and useless to produce them. Since this council “abstained from calling images idols, because there are degrees of evil,”158 it has sometimes been regarded as more tolerant than the first iconoclastic council. But the opinion has recently been advanced that the second iconoclastic movement, particularly under Leo V and Theophilus, was neither more moderate nor more tolerant than that under Leo III and Constantine V, but “only spiritually poorer.”159
The iconoclastic emperors of the second period, Leo V the Armenian, Michael II the Stammerer, and Theophilus, had to carry out their religious policy under conditions which differed greatly from those which had prevailed in the first period. The second period lasted only for about thirty years (815–43), and was thus much shorter than the first period which had lasted for more than fifty years. The iconoclasts of the first period took the iconodules, so to say, unawares. The latter were not sufficiently organized nor prepared for the struggle. The ruthless measures against images forced them to unite their ranks, strengthen their faith, develop methods of fighting, and collect all their dogmatic and polemic materials. The iconoclasts of the second period, therefore, met a much stronger resistance than had their predecessors. The struggle became more difficult for them. Especially strong was the opposition advanced by the abbot of the monastery of Studion, Theodore, and his followers, the Studites, convinced defenders of image-worship, who exerted a great influence upon the mass of the people. Furthermore, Theodore openly wrote and spoke against the intervention of imperial power in the affairs of the church and defended the principles of church independence and freedom of conscience. Angered by Theodore’s attitude and activity, the Emperor sent him into distant exile and banished many of his followers.
According to the surviving sources, which are almost without exception hostile to the iconoclasts, the persecution of images and their worshipers was very severe in the time of Leo V. These sources name martyrs who suffered in this period. On the other hand, even the most vehement opponents of Leo V acknowledge that he was very efficient and skillful in defending the Empire and wise in his administrative measures. According to one historian, Patriarch Nicephorus, deposed by Leo, “said after Leo’s death that the state of the Romans lost a very great, though impious, ruler.”160 Still other contemporaries called Leo “the creeping snake,” and compared his time with “winter and a thick fog.”161
Opinions vary regarding the religious views of Leo’s successor, Michael IL While some historians consider him neutral and indifferent, and a man who “followed the path of tolerance and proclaimed the great principles of freedom of conscience,”162 others call him a “convinced iconoclast, though not a fanatic,” “determined to support Leo’s iconoclastic reforms because they harmonized with his personal convictions, refusing at the same time to continue the further persecution of image-worship.”163 A recent investigator believed that Michael’s “political program consisted of an attempt to pacify all religious disputes even though this involved an enforced silence on debatable questions and a tolerant attitude toward each of the dissenting elements.”164
However, in spite of his iconoclastic tendencies, Michael did not initiate another period of persecution of image-worshipers, although when Methodius, who later became the patriarch of Constantinople, delivered the papal letter to the Emperor and called upon him to restore icon worship, he was subjected to a cruel scourging and was imprisoned in a tomb. In comparing the time of Leo V with the reign of Michael II contemporaries used such phrases as “the fire has gone out, but it is still smoking,” “like a crawling snake the tail of heresy has not yet been killed and is still wriggling,” “the winter is over, but real spring has not yet arrived,” etc.165 The death of the famous defender of images and church freedom, Theodore of Studion, took place in the time of Michael II.
Theophilus, the successor of Michael II and the last iconoclastic emperor, was a man well versed in theological matters, distinguished by his fervent adoration of the Virgin and the saints, and the author of several church songs. Historical opinions of Theophilus are extremely contradictory, ranging all the way from the most damnatory to the most eulogistic statements. With regard to iconoclasm, the reign of Theophilus was the harshest time of the second period of the movement. The Emperor’s main adviser and leader in iconoclastic matters was John the Grammarian, later patriarch of Constantinople, the most enlightened man of that period, who was accused, as was frequently the case with learned men in the Middle Ages, of practicing sorcery and magic. The monks, many of whom were icon-painters, were subject to severe punishments. For example, the palms of the monk Lazarus, an image-painter, were burned with red-hot iron; for their zealous defense of images the two brothers Theophanes and Theodore were flogged and branded on their foreheads with certain insulting Greek verses composed by Theophilus himself for the purpose, and hence they were surnamed the “marked” (graptoi).
And yet a more critical examination of the surviving sources on Theophilus might force historians to forsake the claim that persecutions were excessively severe in his time. The facts giving evidence of cruel treatment of iconodules are few. Bury believed that the religious persecutions of Theophilus did not go beyond a certain geographical boundary, for the Emperor insisted upon the destruction of images only in the capital and its immediate environs. Bury was also of the opinion that during the entire second period of iconoclasm image-worship flourished in Greece and on the islands and coasts of Asia Minor. This fact has not been fully appreciated by historians. The English scholar believed also that only in a few exceptional cases did the Emperor resort to severe punishments.166 Much still remains to be done for a correct historical estimate of the second period of the iconoclastic movement.
Theodora, the wife of Theophilus, was a zealous adherent of image-worship, and her religious tendencies were well known to her husband. When Theophilus died in 842, Theodora became the official ruler of the Empire because of the minority of her son Michael. Her first problem was to restore image-worship. Apparently the opposition of the iconoclasts was not as strong in 842 as it had been in the time of Irene, the first restorer of image-worship, for it took Theodora only a little more than one year to convoke a council to confirm her religious tendencies, while Irene had to spend seven years in the same task. John the Grammarian was deposed from the patriarchal throne and the see of Constantinople was given to Methodius, who had suffered much in the time of Michael. The acts of the council convoked by Theodora have not been preserved, but other sources show that they confirmed the canons of the Council of Nicaea and restored image-worship. When the council finished its work, solemn service was performed in the temple of St. Sophia on the first Sunday in Lent, on the eleventh day of March, 843 A.D. This day is still solemnized as the feast of orthodoxy in the Greek Orthodox church. Until very recent times the year 842 was generally recognized as the correct date of the restoration of images.167
In the Near East the second period of iconoclasm was marked by the publication of a joint letter to protect images under the names of the three eastern patriarchs of the ninth century, Christopher of Alexandria, Job of Antioch, and Basil of Jerusalem.
In summary: The iconoclastic party drew its forces mainly from the court party and the army, including its leading generals, among whom some succeeded in attaining the high imperial rank, as did Leo III, Leo V, and Michael II. The iconoclastic tendencies of the army are attributed by some scholars to the fact that the greatest number of soldiers was drafted from among the eastern nationalities, mainly the Armenians, who had been transferred by the government in large numbers to the western provinces, mostly to Thrace. Hence the majority of the army was iconoclastic by conviction. According to one scholar, “the Orthodox cult impressed the eastern soldiers as an alien religion, and they felt justified in using any kind of violence against those whom they called idolaters.”168 As to the court party and the higher clergy, it may be said that the government officials and a number of bishops did not follow the dictates of their convictions, but professed views in accordance with their fears and ambitions. The population of Constantinople and the great majority of the clergy favored image-worship. The iconoclastic emperors were both gifted warriors and wise administrators, victorious over the Arabs and Bulgarians, and some of them may even be credited with having saved Christianity and the rising western civilization; but they did not persecute images in the name of their political aims and ambitions. Their religious measures were prompted rather by a sincere conviction that they were working toward improvement in the church and the purification of Christianity. The religious reforms of these emperors were at times even detrimental to the accomplishments of their wise political activities. The fight with the iconodules introduced great internal disturbances and weakened the political strength of the Empire. It also led to a rupture with the western church and the gradual separation of Italy from the Byzantine Empire. Only the policy pursued by the iconoclastic emperors toward the monks and monasteries is to be explained by political motives. It is very difficult to form a detailed judgment about the theological doctrine of the iconoclasts because almost all the literature pertaining to the problems of iconoclastic dogma was destroyed by the iconodules. Even among the iconoclasts there were men of moderate, as well as of extremely radical, tendencies. Image-painting was looked upon as a potential cause of two possible dangers: the return to paganism, or the return to one of the heresies condemned by the ecumenical councils. In connection with the second period of the iconoclastic movement it is important to emphasize that while in the eighth century the Isaurians were always supported by the eastern provinces of Asia Minor this was not true in the ninth century. During the second period of iconoclasm “enthusiasm for iconoclastic ideas absolutely weakens; the movement was already spiritually exhausted.”169
The iconodule party was composed of the population of the western provinces, Italy and Greece, all the monks and the greater part of the clergy, the majority of the inhabitants of Constantinople, although they were at times forced by circumstances to feign that they were supporting iconoclasm, and finally, the population of several other sections of the Empire, such as the islands of the Aegean and some of the coast provinces of Asia Minor. The theological doctrine of the image-worshipers, as developed by such leaders as John Damascene and Theodore of Studion, was based on the Holy Scriptures. They considered images not only a means of enlightening the people but believed also that by preserving the holiness and merits of their prototypes —Christ, the Virgin, and the saints—the icons possessed miraculous power.
The iconoclastic epoch has left deep traces in the artistic life of the period. Numerous beautiful monuments of art, mosaics, frescoes, statues, and miniatures were destroyed during the struggle waged upon images. The richly decorated walls of temples were either plastered over or newly ornamented. “Briefly,” said N. P. Kondakov, “the church life of the capital became subject to that protestant desolation which was destined to displace, sooner or later, all the artistic life of Byzantium. … A large number of educated and wealthy people migrated with their families to Italy; thousands of monks founded numerous cave habitations and hermitages throughout the vast territory of southern Italy, Asia Minor and Cappadocia, which were painted by Greek artists. Hence Greek art and iconography of the eighth and ninth centuries must be sought outside of the Byzantine Empire: in Asia Minor or in southern and middle Italy.”170 But parallel with the destruction of artistic monuments bearing the images of Christ, the Virgin, and the saints, the iconoclasts began to create a new type of art by turning to new subjects. They introduced ornament and began to presentgenre scenes, such as pictures of the chase, the Hippodrome, trees, birds, and beasts. Some remarkable works of art in ivory, enamels, and a number of interesting miniatures have also come down from the time of the iconoclastic movement. In general the artistic tendencies of the iconoclasts are viewed by art historians as a return to the classical traditions of Alexandria and a very significant tendency toward realism and the study of nature.171 One important outcome of the iconoclastic epoch was the disappearance of sculptural representations of holy persons or sacred scenes from the eastern church. Officially, neither the church nor the state prohibited these images; hence they apparently disappeared of their own accord. This is viewed by some historians as a partial victory for the iconoclasts over the extreme icon-worshipers.172
Iconoclastic influences were reflected also on Byzantine coins and seals. An entirely new coin and seal type developed under the sway of iconoclastic ideas in the eighth century. The new coins and seals sometimes bore only legends without any images of Christ, the Holy Virgin, or the saints; a cross or a cruciform monogram was sometimes used. On the whole, the type on the coins was confined almost exclusively to representations of the cross and the imperial family. Human portraiture fares hardly better than the sacred images of the precedent times: it is conventional throughout.173 Later, when image-worship was restored, images of Christ, the Virgin, and the saints again appeared on the coins and seals.
Iconoclasm alienated Italy and the papacy from the Empire and was one of the main causes for the final breach in the church in the ninth century. The coronation of Charles the Great in 800 brought about still greater estrangement between the pope and the Byzantine Empire. The final rupture took place in the second half of the ninth century in the reign of Michael III, during the rise of the famous case of Photius and Ignatius in Constantinople.
Ignatius, widely known in his time for his zeal in defending image-worship, was deposed from the patriarchal throne and his high rank was conferred upon Photius, a layman, the most learned man of the period. Two parties formed then in the Byzantine Empire; one sided with Photius, the other with Ignatius, who refused to give up his title voluntarily. They continually anathematized each other and their heated disputes finally forced Michael III to convoke a council. Pope Nicholas I, who sided with Ignatius, was also invited to attend, but he sent only his legates. The latter, under the influence of bribes and threats and against the wish of the pope, confirmed the deposition of Ignatius and the election of Photius as patriarch of Constantinople. In opposition to this decision Pope Nicholas convoked a council in Rome which anathematized Photius and reinstated Ignatius. Michael paid no attention to the proclamation of this Roman council, and in a sharp note to the Pope stated that the church of Constantinople repudiated his claims to the leadership of the universal church. This incident came at the time of the conversion of the Bulgarian king, Boris, to Christianity, in which the interests of Constantinople and Rome clashed seriously, as we have pointed out elsewhere. In the year 867 (the year of Michael’s death) another council was convoked at Constantinople which condemned and anathematized the pope for his heretical doctrine in adding the filioque to the Christian creed, and also for his illegal intervention in the affairs of the church of Constantinople. The pope and the patriarch in their turn anathematized each other, and thus occurred the split in the church. With the death of Michael HI the state of affairs changed. The new Emperor, Basil I, began his reign by deposing Photius and reinstating Ignatius.173a
LITERATURE, LEARNING, AND ART
A movement so profound, complex, and intense as iconoclasm was bound to arouse wide literary activity. Unfortunately, however, the literature of the iconoclasts was destroyed almost completely by the triumphant image-worshipers, and is known today only by scanty fragments preserved in the works of the opponents of iconoclasm, who cited them for the purpose of refutation. It may be said, then, that practically all the surviving literary works of the iconoclastic period represent only one point of view.
Like the preceding period of the Heraclian dynasty, the iconoclastic epoch had no historians, though the chroniclers of this period have left numerous works, helpful to a correct understanding of Byzantine chronography and its sources and also highly valuable for the study of the iconoclastic period itself. George Syncellus,174 who died in the early part of the ninth century, left a Chronography from the creation of the universe to the reign of Diocletian (284 A.D.), which he wrote during his stay in a monastery. While this work does not throw any light on the iconoclastic period, for the author did not deal with contemporary events, it is of considerable value for the elucidation of some problems of earlier Greek chronography, whose works George used as sources.
At the instance of George Syncellus his chronicle was continued in the early part of the same century by his friend, Theophanes the Confessor, whose influence as a chronicler upon the literature of subsequent periods was very great. He was a vehement enemy of the iconoclasts in the second period of the movement. He was submitted by Leo V the Armenian to an inquest, and after being confined in jail for some time, was exiled to one of the islands of the Aegean Sea, where he died in the year 817. The chronicle of Theophanes deals with the period from the reign of Diocletian, where George Syncellus left off his record of events, up to the fall of Emperor Michael I Rangabé, in the year 813. In spite of the clearly expressed eastern-orthodox point of view, very apparent in his analysis of historical events and personalities, and in spite of the biased nature of the account, the work of Theophanes is very valuable, not only because of its rich material from earlier sources, some of which have not been preserved but also because, as a contemporary source on the iconoclastic movement, it devotes more space to it than was usual with other Byzantine chroniclers. The work of Theophanes was the favorite source of subsequent chroniclers. The Latin translation of his chronicle, made by the papal librarian, Anastasius, in the second half of the ninth century, was of the same value to the medieval chronography of the West as the Greek original was for the East.175
Another significant writer of this period was Nicephorus, patriarch of Constantinople in the early part of the ninth century. For his bold opposition to iconoclasm in the time of Leo V the Armenian, he was deposed and exiled. In his theological works, of which some are still unpublished, Nicephorus defends with a remarkable power based on deep conviction the correctness of the iconodulist views. He refutes the arguments of the iconoclasts chiefly in his three “Refutations of the Ignorant and Godless Nonsense of the Impious Mammon [the name he applied to Constantine V] against the Salutary Incarnation of the Word of God.”176 From the historical point of view, his Brief History, which narrates events from the death of Emperor Maurice in Jie year 602 until the year 769, is of considerable value. In spite of the fact that in attempting to make this work a popular account suitable for a wider circle of readers, Nicephorus gave it a somewhat didactic character, it still remains a source of importance, since it contains many interesting facts regarding the political and church history of the period. The very striking similarity of this History and the work of Theophanes may be explained by the fact that both used one common source.177
Finally, George the Monk (Monachus) Hamartolus, also a convinced enemy of the iconoclasts, left a universal chronicle from Adam to the death of Emperor Theophilus in 842 A.D., in other words, until the final victory of image-worship. This work is of much value for the cultural history of the period because it contains many discussions of problems which preoccupied the Byzantine monastics of that period, namely, the nature of monasticism itself, the spread of iconoclastic heresy, and the spread of the Saracen faith. It also gives a vivid picture of the aspirations and tastes of the Byzantine monasteries of the ninth century. The chronicle of Hamartolus formed the basis for later Byzantine arrangements of universal history, and exerted enormous influence upon the early pages of Slavonic literatures, particularly the Russian. Suffice it to say that the beginning of Russian chronicles is very closely connected with the work of Hamartolus. A manuscript of the old Slavo-Russian translation of Hamartolus contains 127 miniatures, which have not yet been thoroughly studied and appreciated, but which are of greatest importance for the history of the Russian and Byzantine art of the thirteenth century. This manuscript is the only illustrated copy of the Chronicle of Hamartolus that has come down to us.178With the exception of one anonymous writer on Emperor Leo V the Armenian,179 Hamartolus is the only contemporary chronicler of the period from 813 to 842. He dealt with this period from a narrow monastic point of view, using mostly oral accounts of contemporaries and personal observations. The manuscript tradition of Hamartolus’ work, which was changed and enlarged many times in later centuries, has survived in such a complicated and entangled form that the question of his authentic original text forms one of the most difficult problems of Byzantine philology. It was only in the early part of the twentieth century that a critical edition of the Greek text of Hamartolus was published.180 Recently there appeared a critical edition of the old Slavo-Russian translation of the chronicle of Hamartolus, supplemented by the Greek text of the continuation of this chronicle which formed the basis of the Slavonic translation.181
Iconoclastic literature was almost completely destroyed by the triumphant image-worshipers; yet part of the detailed acts of the iconoclastic council of the year 754 have survived in the acts of the Seventh Ecumenical Council. Fragments of an extensive work against icon worship written by Constantine V Copronymus have been preserved in the three Rufutations of Patriarch Nicephorus. This emperor was also the author of some other literary works.182 Leo V ordered the compilation of a general work favorable to iconoclasm and based on the Bible and the church fathers, and a similar project was proposed at the iconoclastic council of the year 754; neither of these works has survived. A number of iconoclastic poems have been preserved in the works of Theodore of Studion. The Seventh Ecumenical Council decreed that all iconoclastic literature should be destroyed, and its ninth canon reads as follows: “All the childish plays, the raging mockeries and false writings directed against the honored icons must be presented to the episcopate of Constantinople and there added to all other books of heretics. Anyone found guilty of hiding these works if bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, will be deposed; if monk or layman, will be excommunicated.”183
An enormous amount of literary material dealing with the defense of image-worship and highly important in its influence upon writings of later periods has been left by a man who spent all his life in a province which no longer formed part of the Empire. His name is John Damascene, a native of Syria, which was then under Arabian domination. He was minister of the caliph in Damascus and died about 750 A.D. in the famous Palestinian Laura of St. Sabas. John has left many Works in the fields of dogmatics, polemics, history, philosophy, oratory, and poetry. His principal work isThe Source of Knowledge, the third part of which, entitled “An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith,” was an attempt at a systematic presentation of the main foundations of the Christian faith and Christian dogmatics. Through this exposition John placed in the hands of the image-worshipers a powerful weapon for their struggle with their opponents, a weapon they had lacked in the early part of the iconoclastic movement. Later, in the thirteenth century, this work was used by the famous father of the western church, Thomas Aquinas, as a model for his Summa Theologiae. Among the polemic works of John Damascene we must point out three treatises “against those who depreciate holy images,” where the author firmly and boldly defends image-worship. In ecclesiastical literature John is particularly famous for his church hymns, which are somewhat more intricate in form than the church songs of Romanus the Hymnwriter (Melode), although in depth of poetical force and profound doctrine they are among the best of the hymns of the Christian church. John was also the author of many beautiful canons for festivals of the Lord, about the Holy Virgin, or in honor of prophets, apostles, and martyrs. Especially solemn is his Easter service, whose chants express the deep joy of believers because of Christ’s victory over death and hell. Under John’s pen, church hymns reached the highest point of their development and beauty. After him there were no remarkable writers in the field of Byzantine church poetry.184
The name of John Damascene is also closely connected with the romance Barlaam and Josaphat, which enjoyed the widest popularity in all languages throughout the Middle Ages. No doubt the plot of the tale was derived from the well-known legend of Buddha. It is highly probable that the story was simply a version of the life of Buddha adopted by the Christians of the East for their own use; the author himself said that the story was brought to him from India. Throughout the Middle Ages, down to recent times, the romance was almost universally attributed to John Damascene, but in 1886 the French orientalist, H. Zotenberg, advanced some proofs that John could not have been the author, and many writers have accepted his conclusions.185 But in recent years writers on this subject are less decided, and lean more toward the older point of view. Thus, while the author of an article on John Damascene published in the Catholic Encyclopedia in 1910 says that the romance Barlaam and Josaphat is dubiously attributed to John,186 the most recent editors and translators of this romance think that the name of St. John of Damascus still has a right to appear on the title page of their edition.187
The second period of iconoclasm was marked by the activity of the well-known defender of image-worship, Theodore of Studion, the abbot of a famous monastery of Constantinople which had declined in the time of Constantine V, but was revived under the administration of Theodore. Under his administration a new rule was worked out for the monastery on the basis of community life (cenoby); the intellectual needs of the monks were to be satisfied by a school established at the monastery. The monks were to be trained in reading, writing, and the copying of manuscripts, the study of the Holy Scriptures and the works of fathers of the church, and the art of composing hymns, which they sang during services.
As one of the great religious and social workers in the stormy period of iconoclasm, Theodore demonstrated his ability as an eminent writer in various branches of literature. His dogmatic polemical works aimed to develop the fundamental theses concerning images and image-worship. His numerous sermons, which form the so-called Small and Large Catechisms, proved to be the most popular of his writings. He also left a number of epigrams, acrostics, and hymns. The latter cannot be studied and analyzed to any great extent because some of them are still unpublished, while others have appeared in unscientific editions, such as the Russian service books. His large collection of letters of a religious-canonic and social nature is of very great value for the cultural history of his times.
The two last reigns of this period were marked by the creative activity of the interesting figure of Kasia, the only gifted poetess of the Byzantine period. When Theophilus decided to choose a wife, a bride show was arranged in the capital, for which the most beautiful maidens of all provinces were gathered in Constantinople. Kasia was one of them. The Emperor had to walk along the rows of maidens with a golden apple, and hand it to the one he desired to choose as his wife. He was about to hand it to Kasia, who pleased him more than any of the maidens, but her rather bold answer to his question caused him to change his intention and choose Theodora, the future restorer of orthodoxy. Kasia later founded a monastery where she spent the rest of her life. Kasia’s surviving church poems and epigrams are distinguished by original thought and vivid style. According to Krumbacher, who made a special study of her poems, “she was also a wise but singular woman, who combined a fine sensitiveness and a deep religiousness with an energetic frankness and a slight tendency to feminine slander.”188
The persecution of image-worshipers, glorified in later times by the triumphant iconodules, provided rich material for numerous lives of saints and gave rise to the brilliant period of Byzantine hagiography.
In the time of the Amorian dynasty some progress was made in the field of higher education in the Byzantine Empire and some advance in various branches of knowledge. Under Michael III, his uncle, Caesar Bardas, organized a higher school in Constantinople.189 This higher school was located in the palace; its curriculum consisted of the seven main arts introduced in earlier pagan times and adopted later by Byzantine and western European schools. They are usually referred to as the “seven liberal arts”(septem artes liberales), divided into two groups: the trivium, grammar, rhetoric, and dialectics, and the quadrivium, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. Philosophy and ancient classical writers were also studied in this school. Striving to make education accessible to everybody, Bardas proclaimed that the school would be free of charge; the professors were well paid from the government treasury. The famous scholar of this period, Photius, was one of the teachers in the higher school of Bardas.
This school became the center about which gathered the best minds of the Empire during the subsequent reign of the Macedonian dynasty. Photius, whose first patriarchate fell in the time of Michael III, became the central force in the intellectual and literary movement of the second half of the ninth century. Exceptionally gifted, with a keen love of knowledge and an excellent education, he later devoted his entire attention and energy to educating others. His education had been many-sided, and his knowledge was extensive not only in theology but also in grammar, philosophy, natural science, law, and medicine. He gathered about himself a group of men who strove to enrich their knowledge. A man of inclusive scientific learning, Photius, as was customary in medieval times, was accused of having devoted himself to the study of the forbidden sciences of astrology and divination. Legendary tradition claims that in his youth he had sold his soul to a Jewish magician,190 and in this, according to Bury, “the Patriarch appears as one of the forerunners of Faustus.”191 As the most learned man of his time, he did not limit himself to teaching, but devoted much of his time to writing and has left a rich and varied literary heritage.
Among the works of Photius, his Bibliotheca, or, as it is frequently called, Myriobiblon (thousands of books), is especially important. The circumstances which suggested this work are very interesting. A kind of reading club seems to have existed at the house of Photius where a select circle of his friends assembled to read aloud literature of all kinds, secular and religious, pagan and Christian. The rich library of Photius was at the service of his friends. Yielding to their requests he began to write synopses of the books which had been read.192 In the Bibliotheca Photius gave extracts from numerous works, sometimes brief, sometimes extensive, as well as his own essays based on these abstracts, or critical comments on them. Here are many facts about grammarians, orators, historians, natural scientists, doctors, councils, and the lives of saints. The greatest value of this work lies in the fact that it has preserved fragments of writings which have disappeared. The Bibliotheca deals only with writers of prose. His numerous other works belong to the field of theology and grammar, and he has left also many sermons and letters. In two of his sermons he refers to the first attack of the Russians on Constantinople in the year 860, of which he was an eyewitness.
In his striking universality of knowledge and in his insistence upon the study of ancient writers, Photius was representative of that intellectual movement in the Byzantine Empire which became very apparent, especially in the capital, from the middle of the ninth century, and was expressed in such events as the opening of Bardas’ university, in which Photius himself devoted much time to teaching. In his lifetime and as a result of his influence, a closer and more friendly relation developed between secular science and theological teaching. So broad-minded was Photius in his relations to other people that even a Muhammedan ruler (Emir) of Crete could be his friend. One of his pupils, Nicolaus Mysticus, the Patriarch of Constantinople in the tenth century, wrote in his letter to the Emir’s son and successor that Photius “knew well that, although difference in religion is a barrier, wisdom, kindness, and the other qualities which adorn and dignify human nature attract the affection of those who love fair things; and, therefore, notwithstanding the difference of creeds, he loved your father, who was endowed with these qualities.”193
Patriarch John the Grammarian, an iconoclast, impressed his contemporaries by his profound and varied learning, and was even accused of being a magician. Another distinguished man was Leo, a remarkable mathematician of the time of Theophilus. He became so famous abroad through his pupils that the Caliph Mamun, zealously interested in promoting education, begged him to come to his court. When Theophilus heard of this invitation he gave Leo a salary and appointed him as public teacher in one of the Constantinopolitan churches. Although Mamun had sent a personal letter to Theophilus begging him to send Leo to Bagdad for a short stay, saying that he would consider it as an act of friendship, and offering for this favor, as tradition has it, eternal peace and 2000 pounds of gold, the Emperor refused to grant this demand. In this case Theophilus treated science “as if it were a secret to be guarded, like the manufacture of Greek fire, deeming it bad policy to enlighten barbarians.”194 In later years Leo was elected archbishop of Thessalonica. When deposed in the time of Theodora for his iconoclastic views, Leo continued to teach at Constantinople and became the head of the higher school organized by Bardas. It is well to remember that the apostle of the Slavs, Constantine (Cyril), studied under the guidance of Photius and Leo, and previous to his Khazar mission occupied the chair of philosophy in the higher school of the capital.
This brief account will suffice to indicate that literary and intellectual life flourished in the time of the iconoclastic movement, and it would undoubtedly be seen to be more intensive and varied had the works of the iconoclasts survived through the ages.
In connection with the letters exchanged between Theophilus and Mamun regarding Leo the Mathematician, it is interesting to consider the question of mutual cultural relations between the caliphate and the Empire in the first half of the ninth century. At this time the caliphate, ruled by Harun-ar-Rashid and Mamun, was experiencing a brilliant development of learning and science. In his desire to outrival the glories of Bagdad, Theophilus built a palace in imitation of Arabian models. Certain evidence indicates that the influence of Bagdad upon the Byzantine Empire was very stimulating,195 but this difficult problem extends beyond the limits of this book.
It has been argued frequently that in the field of art the iconoclastic epoch produced only negative results. And it is true that numerous valuable monuments of art were destroyed by the iconoclasts. “Their violence is to be deplored; their vandalism impoverished not only the centuries in which it was exercised, but those in which we ourselves are living.”196 But, on the other hand, the iconoclastic epoch brought a new stream of life into Byzantine art by reviving once more Hellenistic models, especially those of Alexandria,and by introducing oriental decoration borrowed from the Arabs, who in their turn had borrowed it from Persia. And though the iconoclasts categorically suppressed religious art with images of Christ, the Virgin, and saints, they were tolerant toward the presentation of the human figure in general, which became more realistic during this period under the influence of Hellenistic models. Genre scenes of everyday life became the favorite subject of artists, and on the whole there was a decided predominance of purely secular art. An example of this tendency is the fact that in place of the fresco representing the Sixth Ecumenical Council, Constantine V Copronymus ordered a portrait of his favorite charioteer.
The artistic monuments of the epoch, both religious and secular, have perished almost completely. Some mosaics in the churches of Thessalonica (Salonika) may fall within the limits of this period. A group of ivory carvings, especially ivory caskets, may also be attributed to the ninth century. The illuminated manuscripts of the iconoclastic epoch, the illustrations of which were the work of Byzantine monks, testify to the new spirit which had penetrated art. From the point of view of marginal illustrations the Chludoff (Chludov) Psalter is especially interesting. This oldest of illuminated psalters has been preserved at Moscow.197 But it is greatly to be regretted that so few data exist for the study of art in the iconoclastic period. Many of the surviving materials are attributed to the iconoclastic epoch only on the basis of probable evidence, and not with full certainty.
Diehl thus appraised the significance of the iconoclastic epoch for the subsequent second Golden Age of Byzantine art under the Macedonian dynasty:
It was to the time of the iconoclasts that the Second Golden Age owed its essential characteristics. From the iconoclastic epoch proceed the two opposite tendencies which mark the Macedonian era. If at that time there flourished an imperial art inspired by classical tradition and marked by a growing interest in portraiture and real life which imposed its dominant ideas upon religious art, if in opposition to this official and secular art there existed a monastic art more severe, more theological, more wedded to tradition, if from the interaction of the two there issued a long series of masterpieces; it is in the period of iconoclasm that the seeds of this splendid harvest were sown. Not merely for its actual achievements, but for its influence upon the future, does this period deserve particular attention in the history of Byzantine art.198
1 See K. Schenk, “Kaiser Leons III Walten im Innern,” Byzantinische Zeitschrift, V (1896), 296 ft.
2 See N. Iorga, “Les origines de l’icono-clasme,” Bulletin de la section historique de l’Académie roumaine, XI (1924), 147.
3 J. A. Kulakovsky, History of Byzantium, III, 319.
4 Chronographia, ed. C. de Boor, 391.
5 Chronographia tripertita, ed. C. de Boor, 251.
6 Ed. J. P. Migne, Patrologia Graeca, C, 1084.
7 See E. W. Brooks, “The Campaign of 716–18 from Arabic Sources,” Journal of Hellenic Studies, XIX (1899), 21–22.
8 See Th. I. Uspensky, History of the Byzantine Empire, II (1), 5.
9 See K. E. Zachariä von Lingenthal, Jus graeco-romanum, III, 55. J. and P. Zepos, Jus graecoromanum, I, 45.
10 J. B. Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire, II, 405; S. Lampros, ‘Iστoρία ‘Eλλάδoς, III, 729. For the most detailed and recent account of this siege and its legendary tradition, see M. Canard, “Les expéditions des Arabes contre Constantinople,” Journal Asiatique, CCVIII (1926), 80–102. Constantine Porphyrogenitus also attributes the construction of a mosque in Constantinople to Maslamah. De administrando imperio, ed. J. J. Reiske and I. Bekker, Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae, 101–2; ed. Moravcsik-Jen-kins (1949), 92. P. Kahle, “Zur Geschichte der mittelalterlichen Alexandria,” Der Islam, XII (1922), 34. X. A. Nomiku, “Tò πρώτo τζαμί της Kωνσταντνoυπóλεωζ,” ‘Eπετηρίς ‘Eταιρείας Bυζαντινων Σπoυδων, I (1924), 199–201.
11 See Barthold, Transactions of the Oriental College, I (1925), 469–70.
12 See H. Lammens, Études sur le règne du calife Omaiyade Moawia I, 444.
13 Barthold, Transactions of the Oriental College, I (1925), 470–71. A. A. Vasiliev, “Medieval Ideas of the End of the World: West and East,” Byzantion, XVI, 2 (1944), 472–73.
14 In the Russian and first English editions of my History of the Byzantine Empire I have rather overestimated the significance of the battle of Poitiers: Russian ed. (1917), 222; 1st English ed. (1928), I, 290. See, e.g., A. Dopsch, Wirtschaftliche und soziale Grundlagen der europàischen Kulturentwicklung (2nd ed., 1924), II, 298.
15 See J. Wellhausen, Die Kämpfe der Araber mit den Romaern in der Zeit der Umaiji-den, 444–45; a special article on Battal in the Encyclopédie de l’Islam, I, 698. See also Barthold, Transactions of the Oriental College, I (1925), 470; D. B. Macdonald, “The Earlier History of the Arabian Nights,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1924), 281; Canard, “Les expéditions des Arabes contre Constantinople,” Journal Asiatique, CCVIII (1926), 116–18. W. M. Ramsay, “The Attempts of the Arabs to Conquer Asia Minor (641–964 A.D.) and the Causes of Its Failure,” Bulletin de la section historique de l’Académie roumaine, XI (1924), 2. We shall resume the story of al-Battal later, in connection with the epic of Digenes Akrites.
16 A. Lombard, Etudes d’histoire byzantine: Constantine V, empereur des Romains, 59.
17 Willibaldi, Vita; ed. G. H. Pertz, Monumenta Germaniae Histórica, Scriptorum, XV, 93.
18 A. A. Vasiliev, “The Slavs in Greece,” Vizantiysky Vremennik, V (1898), 416–17.
19 De Thematibus, 53–54.
20 Theophanes, Chronographia, ed. de Boor, 456–57.
21 K. E. Zachariä von Lingenthal, Geschichte des griechisch-rômischen Rechts (3rd ed., 1892), 16. P. Collinet, “Byzantine Legislation from Justinian (565) to 1453,” Cambridge Medieval History, IV, 708 (March 740). V. Grumel, “La Date de la promulgation de l’Ecloge de Leon III,” Échos d’Orient, XXXIV (1935), 331 (March 741).
22 “Legislation of the Iconoclasts,” Journal of the Ministry of Public Instruction, CXCIX (1878), 279–80; also in Works of V. G. Vasilievsky, IV, 163.
23 See C. N. Uspensky, Outlines of the History of Byzantium, I, 216–18.
24 D. Ginnis, “Das promulgationsjahr der Isaurischen Ecloge,” Byzantinische Zeitschrift, XXIV (1924), 356–57. A Manual of Roman Law, the Ecloga published by the Emperors Leo III and Constantine V of Isauria at Constantinople A.D. 726, ed. E. H. Freshfield, 2. C. A. Spulber, L’Eclogue des Isauriens, 83; detailed discussion of the date of the Ecloga, 81–86. G. Ostrogorsky, “Die Chronologie des Theophanes im 7. und 8. Jahrhundert,” Byzantinisch-Neugriechische fahrbücher, VII (1930), 6, n. See also E. H. Freshfield, Roman Law in the Later Roman Empire. The Isaurian Period.
25 K. E. Zachariä von Lingenthal, ed., Collectio librorum juris graeco-romani ineditorum. Ecloga Leonis et Constantini. Zepos, fus graecoromanum, II, 11.
26 Ecloga, par. 11. Zcpos, Jus graecoromanum, II, 13.
27 Ecloga, par. 11, 13; the Russian trans. Vasilievsky, “Legislation of the Iconoclasts,” Journal of the Ministry of Public Instruction, CXCIX (1878), 283–85 and Works, IV, 168–69. Spulber, L’Eclogue, 5–9. Freshfield, Roman Law, 68–70. Both give an English trans. Zepos, Jus graecoromanum, II, 14, 16–17.
28 Bury, Constitution of the Later Roman Empire, II, 414.
29 The date of these is debatable, but they probably should be assigned to some time prior to the accession of Basil I the Macedonian in 867. See Zachariä von Lingenthal, Jus graeco-romanum, IV, 4. E. H. Freshfield, A Revised Manual of Roman Law. Ecloga privata aucta, 2. Spulber,L’Eclogue, 94–95. But cf. Zachariä von Lingenthal, Geschichte des griechisch-römischen Rechts (3rd ed., 1892), 36 (on the Ecloga privata aucta in South Italy under Norman domination).
30 Zachariä von Lingenthal, Collectio librorum, 62. Zepos, Jus graecoromanum, II, 237.
31 In this book, known in Russia soon after the adoption of Christianity in the tenth century A.D., were laid down the apostolic church rules and the rules of the ecumenical councils as well as the civil laws of the orthodox Byzantine emperors.
32 Histoire de la civilisation hellénique, 205, 209.
33 Historiae Juris Graeco-Romani Delineatio, 32.
34 Zachariä von Lingenthal, Geschichte des Griechisch-rö mischen Rechts (3rd ed., 1892), 250. This opinion has been shared by Vasilievsky, “Legislation of the Iconoclasts,” Journal, CXCIX (1878), 97; Works, IV, 199.
35 Peasant Property in the Byzantine Empire. The Rural Code and Monastic Documents, 86.
36 Ibid., 30.
37 G. Vcrnadsky, “Sur les origines de la Loi agraire byzantine,” Byzantion, II (1926), 173. G. Ostrogorsky, “Die wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Entwicklungs-grundlagen des byzan-tinischen Reiches,” Vierteljahrschrift fü r Sozial-und Wirtschaft Geschichte, XXII (1929), 133. E. Stein is also inclined to accept this dating, Byzantinische Zeitschrift, XXIX (1930), 355. F. Dölger rejects this theory, Historische Zeitschrift, CXLI (1929), 112–13.
38 E. Lipschitz, “The Byzantine Peasantry and Slavonic Colonization (Particularly upon the Data of the Rural Code),” Vizantiysfy Sbornikj 1945, 104–5.
39 Byzantine Empire, I, 28. See also A. Vogt, Basile Ier empereur de Byzance (867–86) et la civilisation byzantine à la fin du IXe siècle, 378.
40 Runciman also asserted that the Isaurian emperors met these innovations with the very definite policy of abolishing serfdom. See Runciman, The Emperor Romanus Lecapenus and His Reign, 225.
41 Histoire de l’Empire Byzantin, 69; trans. G. B. Ives, 56. See Diehl’s brief remark on the importance of the Rural Code for the eighth century in Charles Diehl and G. Marçais, Le Monde Oriental de 395 à 1018, 256 and η. 23.
42 “The Farmer’s Law,” Journal of Hellenic Studies, XXX (1910), 84; XXXII (1912), 68–83. Text ed. C. Ferrini, Byzantinische Zeitschrift, VII (1898), 558–71; reprinted in Opera di Contardo Ferrini, I, 375–95.
43 V. N. Zlatarsky, A History of the State of Bulgaria in the Middle Ages, I, 197–200.
44 See the very interesting chapters on this subject in two Russian books which are practically unknown to European and American scholars: C. N. Uspensky, “The So-Called ‘Rural Code,’ “Outlines in the History of Byzantium, 162–82; and A. P. Rudakov,Outlines in the Byzantine Culture Based on Data of Greek Hagiography, 176–98. See also G. Vernadsky, “Notes on the Peasant Community in Byzantium,” Ucheniya Zapiski osnovanniya Russfoy Uchebnoy Kollegiey ν Prage, I, 2 (1924), 81–97. Vernadsky was not acquainted with the two preceding works. See also N. A. Constantinescu, “Réforme sociale ou réforme fiscale?” Bulletin de la section historique de l’Académie roumaine, XI (1924), 95–96.
45 Vernadsky, “Sur les origines de la Loi agraire byzantine,” Byzantion, II (1926), 178–79.
46 “The Farmer’s Law,” Journal of Hellenic Studies, XXXII (1912), 71.
47 See W. Ashburner, The Rhodian Sea haw, lxviii, lxxviii, cxiii.
48 On this code of the Macedonian epoch, see pp. 342–43.
49 Rhodian Sea Law, cxii, cxiii.
50 Ibid., cxii, cxiv.
51 See a very accurate article on the Rhodian Law by H. Kreller, “Lex Rhodia, Untersu-chungen zur Quellengeschichte des römischen Seerechtes,” Zeitschrift fur das Ge-samte Handelsrecht und Konkursrecht, XXV (1921), 257–367.
52 See Zachariä von Lingenthal, Geschichte des griechische-rö mischcn Rechts (3rd ed., 1892), 16–17; idem, “Wissenschaft und Recht für das Heer vom 6. bis zum Anfang des 10. Jahrhunderts,” Byzantinische Zeitschrijt, III (1894), 448–49.
53 Diehl and Collinet took the view that the three laws were the work of the Isaurian dynasty, Cambridge Medieval History, IV, 4–5, 708–10. But in the introduction (xiii) Bury said that, in his opinion, after the investigations of Ashburner such a view is quite untenable, at least in regard to the first two codes.
54 History of the Byzantine Empire from DCXIV to MLVll (2nd ed., 1856), 13–14; ed. H. F. Tozer, II, 29.
55 Die Genesis der byzantinischen Themcn-verjassung, 75.
56 Byzantine Empire, I, 812; II, 55–56.
57 The Arabic text of Ibn-Khurdadhbah with a French trans. M. J. de Goeje, Bibliotheca Geographorum Arabicorum, VI, 77 ff. See Gelzer, Die Genesis der byzantinischen Themenverfassung, 82 ff.; E. W. Brooks, “Arabic Lists of Byzantine Themes,” Journal of Hellenic Studies, XXI (1901), 67 ff. See also a list of Byzantine themes in a Persian geography of the end of the tenth century. Hudud al-Alam. The Regions of the World. A Persian Geography 372 A.H .-982 A.D., trans. V. Minorsky, 156–58, 421–22.
58 De Thematibus, 28.
59 Theophanes Continuatus, Historia, Bonn ed., 6.
60 See Kulakovsky, Byzantium, III, 391–92. E. Stein, “Ein Kapitel vom persischen und vom byzantinischen Staate,” Byzantinisch-Neugriechische Jahrbücher, I (1920), 75–77. G. Ostrogorsky, “Uber die vermeintliche Reformtatigkeit der Isaurier,” Byzantinische Zeitschrijt, XXX (1929–30), 397. Ostrogorsky, Geschichte des byzantinischen Staates, 105 and n. 4. Diehl and Marcais, Le Monde oriental, 256.
61 Theophanes, Chronographia, ed. de Boor, 410. See F. Dö lger, Regesten der Kaiserurffunden des oströ mischen Reiches, I, no. 300, 36. E. Stein, Byzantinische Zeitschrift, XXIX (1930), 355.
62 See A. van Millingen, Byzantine Constantinople, 98–99, and the illustrations between these pages.
63 Iconoclast, the Greek word for “icon-breaker”; iconodule, “icon-worshiper.”
64 Paparrigopoulo, Histoire de la civilisation héllenique, 188–91. The same views were developed by the author earlier in his History of the Greek People, III.
65 K. Schwarzlose, Der Bilderstreit, ein Kampf der Griechischen Kirche um ihre Eigenart und ihre Freiheit, 42, 46, 48, 50.
66 Constantine V, 105, 124,127,128.
67 La Querelle des images, 3–4.
68 Outlines in the History of Byzantium, 213, 237. See Iorga, “Sur les origine de l’icono-clasme,” Bulletin de la section historique de l’Académie roumaine, XII (1924), 147–48. G. Ostrogorsky vigorously rejects C. Uspensky’s theory, Byzantinische Zeitschrijt, XXX (1929–30), 399 and n. 2.
69 Recent surveys of the iconoclastic movement have been made by H. Leclercq, “Images,” Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne, VII, 180–302; and by Th. I. Uspensky, Byzantine Empire, II, 22–53, 89–109, 157–74. See also E. J. Martin, History of the Iconoclastic Controversy; J. Marx, Der Bilderstreit der byzantinischen Kaiser; G. B. Ladner, “Origin and Significance of the Byzantine Iconoclastic Controversy,” Medieval Studies, II (1940), 127–49. L. Bréhier, “Iconoclasme,” Histoire de l’Église, ed. A. Fliche and V. Martin, V, 431–70 (until 754). Very important; an excellent bibliography.
70 J. D. Mansi, Sacrorum concthorum nova et amplissima collectio, II, (Consilium Liberitanum, par. XXXVI). On a different interpretation of this text see Leclercq, Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne, VII, 215. But the text is clear. On the authenticity of the act of the Council of Elvira, see, e.g., A. Harnack, Geschichte der altchristlichen Litteratur bis Eusebis, II. Die Chronologie, II, 450: “ihre Echtheit … bedarf keiner Beweisfuhrung.” The date of the Council, A. Piganiol, L’Empereur Constantin le Grand, 81–82.
71 Historia ecclesiastic a, VII, 18, 4.
72 The Greek text in G. Ostrogorsky, Studien zur Geschichte des byzantinischen Bilderstreites, 74; cf. the Latin version, ibid., 74, 86. P. Maas, “Die ikonoclastiche Episode in dem Briefe des Epiphanios an Johannes,” Byzantinische Zeitschrift, XXX (1929–30), 282; also in Migne, Patrologia Graeca, XLIII, 390. Against the authenticity, D. Serruys, in Comptes rendus de l’Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres, I (1904), 361–63; and Ostrogorsky, Geschichte des byzantinischen Bilderstreites, 83–88. But H. Grégoire,Byzantian IV (1909), 769–70; F. Dölger, in Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen (1929), 357–58 (very interesting review of Ostrogorsky’s book). Maas, Byzantinische Zeitschrift, XXX (1929–30), 279, 286; and Stein, Byzantinische Zeitschrift, XXIX (1928), 356.
73 Epistolae, IX, 105; ed. Migne, Patrologia Latina, LXXVII, 105; ed. L. M. Hartmann, Mon. Germ. Hist., Epistolarum, II, 195; English trans. A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, ed. P. Schaff and others, 2nd ser., XIII, 23.
74 Epistolae, XI, 13; ed. Migne, LXXVII, 1128; ed. Hartmann, VI, 10; Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, XIII, 54.
75 See, e.g., C. Becker, Vom Werden und Wesen der Islamischen Welt: Islamstudien, I, 446 (he asserted that the edict of Yazid was issued).
76 Theophanes, Chronographia, ed. de Boor, 405. Iorga called this epithet “un sobriquet et une calomnie,” Bulletin de la section historique de l’Académie roumaine, XI (1924), 143, n. 3.
77 Ecumenical Councils of the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Centuries (3rd ed., 1904), 142.
78 Iconography of the Holy Virgin, II, 3.
79 Germanus and Tarasius, Patriarchs of Constantinople, 79.
80 On the interesting correspondence on doctrinal questions between the Calif Umar II and Leo III, which has been preserved by the Armenian historian Ghevond and may be spurious, see an accurate study by A. Jeffery, “Ghevond’s Text of the Correspondence between Umar II and Leo III,”Harvard Theological Review, XXXVII (1944), 269–332.
81 Gregorii II, Epistola, XIII: ad Leonem Isaurum imperatorem; Migne, Patrologia Latina, LXXXIX, 521 (imperator sum et sacerdos). The problem of whether the letters of Gregory II to Leo III are spurious (see L. Guérard, “Les Lettres de Grégoire II à Léon L’Isaurien,” Mélanges d’archéologie et d’histoire, X , 44–60) or genuine (see, e.g., H. Mann, The Lives of the Popes [2nd ed., 1925], I, 498–502), is not very important for our purpose. In any case the letter was written or fabricated on very good evidence. See J. B. Bury, Appendix 14 to the fifth volume of his edition of Gibbon; Hefele-Leclercq, Histoires des conciles, III (2), 659–64. Cabrol, Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne, VII (1), 248. A new edition of the letters of Gregory II by E. Caspar, Zeitschrift für Kirchenge-schichte, LII (1933), 29–89, esp. 76. More recent studies are rather in favor of the authenticity of the letters.
82 Chronographia, ed. de Boor, 404.
83 Of the recent publications see, e.g., Charles Diehl, “Leo III and the Isaurian Dynasty (717–802),” Cambridge Medieval History, IV, 9. Leclercq, in Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne, VII (1), 240–41; Th. I. Uspensky, Byzantine History, II, 25 ff.
84 See Leclercq, “Constantin,” Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne, III, 248 (he refers the second edict to the year 729).
85 Andreev, Germanus and Tarasius, 71.
86 Studien zur Geschichte des byzantinischen Reiches, 140.
87 On the date, Ostrogorsky, Geschichte des byzantinischen Bilderstreites, 14, n. 1. Histoire de l’Église, ed. Fliche and Martin, V, 468. The year 753 has usually been accepted up to this time.
88 Mansi, Amplissima collectio conciliorum, XIII, 323, 327, 346, 354, 355; Hefelc, History of the Councils of the Church, V, 313–15. See an interesting discussion of the influence on the Acts of the Council of 754 of Constantine’s works against icon-worship in Ostrogorsky, Geschichte des byzantinischen Bilderstreites, 7–29.
89 Germanus and Tarasius, 96.
90 See Ostrogorsky, Geschichte des byzantinischen Bilderstreites, 29–40.
91 Migne, Patrología Graeca, C, 1120. V. G. Vasilievsky, “The Life of Stephen the Younger,” Works II, 324.
92 Paparrigopoulo, History of the Greek People, ed. P. Karolides, III, 703–7. This satire belongs to the poet of the first half of the eleventh century, Christopher of Mytilene. See Die Gedichte des Christophoros Mitylenaios, ed. E. Kurtz, 76–80 (no. 114); Russian trans. D. Shestakov, “The Three Poets of the Byzantine Renaissance,” Transactions of the University of Kazan, LXXIII, 11–14.
93 Vasilievsky, “Life of Stephen,” Works, II, 322.
94 History of Byzantium, I, 228.
95 Theophanes, Chronographia, ed. de Boor, 445, 446. Similar information is reported in the Life of S. Romanus the Néomartyr. P. Peeters, “S. Romain le Néomartyr († I mai 780) d’après un document géorgien,” Analecta Bollandiana, XXX (1911), 413. S. Romanus, born in Galatia circa 730, left his country for the East, was captured by the Arabs, and suffered martyrdom on the shores of the Euphrates in 780.
96 The Life of S. Romanus the Néomartyr, 419.
97 Andreev, Germanus and Tarasius, 78.
98 See F. Dvornik, La vie de saint Grégoire de Décapolite et les Slaves Macédoniens au IX6 siècle, 41, 58.
99 “Geschichte des byzantinischen Bilderstreites, 38.
100 Germanus and Tarasius, 98.
101 Mansi, Amplissima collectio conciliorum, XIII, 739–40.
102 J. Bryce, The Holy Roman Empire, 50.
103 Alcuin refers here to the dethronement and blinding of the Emperor Constantine VI by his own mother, Irene.
104 Mon. Germ. Hist., Epistolarum, IV; Epistolae Carolini Aevi, II, 288 (no. 173).
105 W. Sickel, “Die Kaiserwahl Karls der Grossen. Eine rechtsgeschichtliche Erörterung,” Mitteilungen des Instituts für österreichische Geschichtsforschung, XX (1899), 1–2, 3.
106 A. Gasquet, L’Empire byzantin et la monarchie franque, 284–85.
107 Dölger, Regesten, 1, 41 (no. 339); sources and literature are indicated.
108 “Versus Pauli Diaconi, XII,” Poetae latini Versus carolini, I, 50.
109 In 1893, J. B. Bury published a very interesting and daring paper on Charles the Great and Irene in which he attempted to suggest that the original conception of the imperial coronation of 800 came from Irene herself. Bury, “Charles the Great and Irene,”Hermathena, VIII (1893), 17–37. This paper has remained practically unknown to scholars, and even Bury himself, though he did not expressly reject his own suggestion, omitted mention of it in his History of the Eastern Roman Empire, 317–21, when he discussed the negotiations between Charles and the Byzantine court. See N. Baynes, A Bibliography of the Works of J. B. Bury, 7–8, 136. Baynes remarked of Bury’s silence: “This is a pity: one feels that it is a theory which ought to have been true!”
110 Kaiser, Rom und Renovatio, I, 12–13.
111 Theophanes, Chronographia, ed. de Boor, 475. Diehl rejects the existence of these negotiations, Cambridge Medieval History, IV, 24. In 800 Irene was fifty years old. See Bury, “Charles the Great and Irene,” Hermathena, VIII (1893), 24; Irene was only forty-four in 794. Ostrogorsky is doubtful of the negotiations: Geschichte des byzantinischen Staates, 128, n. 2.
112 See F. Dölger, “Bulgarisches Cartun und byzantinisches Kaisertum,” Actes du IVe Congrès international des études byzantines, September, 1934. Bulletin de l’Institut archéologique Bulgare, IX (1935), 61. G. Brătianu, Études byzantines d’histoire économique et sociale, 193.
113 Eastern Roman Empire, 325. Sec also L. Halphen, Les barbares des grandes invasions aux conquêtes turques du XIe siècle, 243–50. The title “Emperor of the Romans” has been discovered on an imperial seal of the eighth century. In reference to this Dölger stated that the solemn title “Emperor of the Romans” occurs frequently in official documents after 812, but not before, but it might occasionally have been used before that date. Dölger, Byzantinische Zeitschrift, XXXVII (1937), 579. Grégoire, Byzantion, XI (1936), 482. For a general discussion of this question, see Ostrogorsky, Geschichte des byzantinischen Staates, 137, n. 2.
114 Paparrigopoulo, ‘Iστoρία τoύ έλληυικoύ έθνoυς, III, 467.
115 K. Schenk, “Kaiser Leons III Walten im Innern,” Byzantinische Zeitschrift, V (1896), 289, 296.
116 H. Gelzer, Abriss der byzantinischen Kaisergeschichte, 960.
117 Bury, Later Roman Empire, II, 410.
118 Lombard, Constantine V, 169.
119 Cambridge Medieval History, IV, 26.
120 Byzantine Empire, II, 22.
121 Bury, Eastern Roman Empire, viii.
122 See, e.g., Tabari, Annales, III (2), 695. Chronique de Michel le Syrien, trans. J. B. Chabot, III (I), 15. E. W. Brooks, “Byzantines and Arabs in the Time of the Early Abbasids,” English Historical Review (1900), 743. Cf. Brâtianu, Études byzantines, 187, 191–95 (on Nicephorus’ general policy).
123 Bury, Eastern Roman Empire, III, 78.
124 Chronique de Michel le Syrien, trans. Chabot, III (I), 72.
125 See H. Grégoire, “Du nouveau sur le Patriarche Photius,” Bulletin de la classe des lettres de l’Académie royale de Belgique, XX (1934), 38–39. In several other articles and studies Grégoire emphasizes the same idea.
126 A. A. Vasiliev, The First Russian Attack on Constantinople in 860–861.
127 This story has been preserved by the Arab historian Tabari, Annales, ed. de Goeje, III, 1451; Russian trans. A. A. Vasiliev, Byzantium and the Arabs, 1, 188; supplement, 58. V. R. Rosen, The Emperor Basil Bulgaroctonus, 147; French trans. A. A. Vasiliev,Byzance et les Arabes, I, 321–22. Diehl and Marçais, Le Monde oriental, I, 320, n. 135. In English, Bury, Eastern Roman Empire, 280–81.
128 The letter of the Emperor Michael to the western emperor Louis the Pious, Baronii Annales ecclesiastici, ed. Theiner, XIV, 63; Genesius, Bonn ed., 33.
129 Theophanes Continuatus, Historia, Bonn ed., 53.
131 For the most detailed critical account of the insurrection of Thomas, see Vasiliev, Byzantium and the Arabs, 21–43; French trans., 22–49. Bury, Eastern Roman Empire, 84–110. Th. I. Uspensky, Byzantine Empire, II (I), 279–92. The editors of the French version of my book say that I consider Thomas of Armenian origin (p. 26). This is not the case. I continue to regard him as a Slav.
132 Finlay, History of Greece, ed. Tozer, II, 133; Bury, Eastern Roman Empire, II, 110.
133 See Vasiliev, Byzantium and the Arabs, 82–92; in French, 103–14; Bury, Eastern Roman Empire, 254, 472–77. The triumph in Constantini Porphyrogenitus, De cerimoniis aulae byzantinae, 503–7.
134 Yaqubi, Historiae, ed. M. Th. Houtsma, II 573; Vasiliev, Byzantium and the Arabs, appendix, 9; French ed., 274.
135 Vasiliev, ibid., 113–17; in French, 37–43. Bury, Eastern Roman Empire, 260–62. The triumph in De cerimoniis, 507–8.
136 Tabari, Annales, III, 1236; in Russian, Vasiliev, Byzantium and the Arabs, appendix, 30; in French, 294–95. The most detailed account of the Amorian campaign in the Arab chronicle of Tabari, Anuales, III, 1236–56; in Russian, 30–46; in French, 295–310. For the campaign in general, in Russian, 119–40;. in French, 144–77. Bury, Eastern Roman Empire, 262–72. Bury, “Mutasim’s March Through Cappadocia in A.D. 838,” Journal of Hellenic Studies, XXIX (1909), 120–29.
137 See Acta 42 martyrum Amoriensium, ed. V. G. Vasilievsky and P. Nikitin, Transactions of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, VIII Ser., VII 2 (1905), 35. The Greek text and detailed commentary in Russian. The Acta gives some interesting historical material. See Bury, Eastern Roman Empire, 271–72. Also A Greek Text of the Life of 42 Martyrs of Amorion, after the MSS of the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris, No. 1534, ed. A. A. Vasiliev, Transactions, VIII ser., Ill, 3 (1898), 16.
138 Vasiliev, Byzantium and the Arabs, I, 199–201; Bury, Eastern Roman Empire, III, 283–84.
139 Constantini Porphyrogeniti De ceremoniis aulae byzantinae, I, 69; Bonn ed., 332–33. See J. B. Bury, “The Ceremonial Book of Constantine Porphyrogennetos,” English Historical Review, XXII (1907), 434.
140 Anecdota Bruxellensia, I. Chroniques byzantines du Manuscrit 11376, ed. F. Cumont, 33.
141 Kalendaria Ecclesiae Universae, I, 240–43; IV, 9.
142 A History of the Russian Church, I (I, 21–22; (2nd ed., 1901), II (I), 40.
143 In Rossorum incursionem Homilae, I-II. Lexicon Vindobonense, ed. A. Nauck, 201, 209, 221.
144 It is uncertain whether Crete was conquered by the Arabs in 823 or 825. See Vasiliev, Byzantium and the Arabs, 45–53; on the date, 49, n. 1; in French, 49–61. Bury, Eastern Roman Empire, 287–91. Brooks, in an article particularly important from the point of view of critical investigation of sources, attributed the conquest to 828. E. Brooks, “The Arab Occupation of Crete,” English Historical Review, XXVIII (1913), 432.
145 On the revolt of Euphemius, F. Gabotto, Eufemio il movimento separatista nella Italia bizantina. See also Vasiliev, Byzantium and the Arabs, 56–75; in French, 61–88. Bury, Eastern Roman Empire, 294–302, 478–80. Amari’s fundamental work is, of course, indispensable.
146 Gabotto, ibid., 6–7. Vasiliev, ibid., 73–74; in French, 85. Cf. M. Amari, Storia dei Musulmani di Sicilia, I, 282; (2nd ed., 1933), 412.
147 See J. Gay, L’Italie Méridionale et l’Empire Byzantin, 5–6.
148 Theophanes, Chronographia, ed. dc Boor, 486.
149 Ibid., 491. Cedreni, Historiarum compendium, Bonn ed., II, 42.
150 Theophanes, Chronographia, ed. de Boor, 503.
151 See Bury, Eastern Roman Empire, 339–54. Th. I. Uspensky, Byzantine Empire, II (I), 250–63. S. Runciman, A History of the First Bulgarian Empire, 51–70.
152 Uspensky, Byzantine Empire, II (I), 263.
153 See J. B. Bury, “The Bulgarian Treaty of A.D. 814 and the Great Fence of Thrace,” English Historical Review, XXV (1910), 276–87
154 “Materials for Bulgarian Antiquities, Aboba-Plisca,” Bulletin of the Russian Archeological Institute in Constantinople, X (1905), 197. See also Uspensky, Byzantine Empire, II (i), 453.
155 For the most recent accounts of the conversion of Bulgaria, see F. Dvornik, Les Slaves, Byzance et Rome au IXe siècle, 184–95; V. Zlatarsky, History of Bulgaria in the Middle Ages, I (2), 31–152. S. Runciman, First Bulgarian Empire, 104 (in September 865; refers to Zlatarsky’s work). A. Vaillant and M. Lascaris, “La Date de la conversion des Bulgares,” Revue des études slaves, XIII (1933), 13 (in 864). Th. I. Uspensky, Byzantine Empire, II, 451–79; conversion in 865.
156 Scriptor incerttts de Leone Bardae filio, Bonn ed., 349,
157 On this council see Ostrogorsky, Geschichte des byzantinischen Bilderstreites, 46–60.
158 M. D. Serruys, “Les actes du Concile Iconoclaste de l’an 815,” Mélanges d’archéologie et d’histoire, XXIII (1903), 348–49. A later and better edition in Ostrogorsky, Geschichte des byzantinischen Bilderstreites, 48–51.
159 Ostrogorsky, ibid., 56.
160 Genesius, Regna, Bonn ed., 17–18; see also Theophanes Continuatus, Historia, Bonn ed., 30.
161 See A. Dobroklonsky, Blessed Theodore the Confessor and Abbot of Studion, I, 850.
162 Gelzer, Abriss der byzantinischen Kaisergeschichte, 967; Schwarzlose, Der Bilderstreit, 72; Ternovsky, The Graeco-Eastern Church, 487.
163 N. Grossu, The Blessed Theodore of Studion, 151.
164 Dobroklonsky, Theodore the Confessor, I, 849.
165 Ibid., 850.
166 Eastern Roman Empire, III, 140–41.
167 See C. de Boor, “Der Angriff der Rhos auf Byzanz,” Byzantinische Zeitschrijt, IV (1895), 449–53. Vasiliev, Byzantium and the Arabs, appendix, 142–46; in French, 418–21 (on the year of the restoration of Orthodoxy). On some good evidence, C. Loparev asserted that the restoration of orthodoxy took place not on the eleventh of March but on the eleventh of February, 843: “Hagiography of the Eighth and Ninth Centuries as a Source of Byzantine History,” Revue Byzantine, II (1916), 172, n. I.
168 Bréhier, La Querelle des images, 40.
169 Uspensky, Byzantine Empire, II (1), 358. Ostrogorsky, Geschichte des byzantinischen Staates, 53, 59.
170 Iconography of the Holy Virgin, II, 5.
171 See Charles Diehl, Manuel d’art byzantin, 340; (2nd ed., 1925), I, 366.
172 See Bury, Eastern Roman Empire, III, 430.
173 See W. Wroth, Catalogue of the Imperial Byzantine Coins in the British Museum, I, xciii. O. M. Dalton, East Christian Art, 224.
173a on Photius see the monumental work of Francis Dvornik, The Photian Schism, History and Legend (Cambridge, 1948).
174 Syncellus: a high ecclesiastical honor (title) in the Byzantine Empire. Literally, it means “cell-mate.”
175 On Theophanes, see G. Ostrogorsky, ‘Theophanes,” Real-Encyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft, ed. A. F. Pauly, G. Wissowa and others, II (1934), 2127–32.
176 See Migne, Patrologia Graeca, C, 205 ff.
177 R. Blake, “Note sur l’activité littéraire de Nicéphore Ier, patriarche de Constantinople,” Byzantion, XIV (1939), 1–15.
178 D. Aïnalov, “La Chronique de George Hamartolus,” Compterendu du deuxième Congrès international des études byzantines, 1927, 127–33.
179 On this important contemporary source see H . Grégoire, “Un nouveau fragment du ‘Scriptor incertus de Leone Armenio,’” Byzantion, XI (1936), 417–28. Grégoire, “Du nouveau sur la Chronographie byzantine: le ‘Scriptor incertus de Leone Armenio’ est le dernier continuateur le Malalas,” Bulletin de la classe des lettres de l’Académie Royale de Belgique, XXII (1936), 420–36.
180 Georgius Monachus, Chronikon, ed. C. de Boor.
181 V. M. Istrin, The Chronicle of George Hamartolus in Its Old Sloveno-Russian Version.
182 See Ostrogorsky, Geschichte des byzantinischen Bilderstreites, 7–14.
183 Mansi, Amplissima collectio conciliorum, XIII, 430.
184 M. Jugic, “La Vie de S. Jean Damascène,” Échos d’Orient, XXIII (1924), 137–61. O. Bardenhewer, Geschichte der altkirchlichen Literatur, V, 51–65.
185 See K. Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Li tier atur, 886–90.
186 J. B. O’Conner, “John Damascene,” Catholic Encyclopedia, VIII, 459–61.
187 St. John Damascene, Barlaam and Joasaph; with English trans. C. R. Woodward and H. Mattingly, xii.
188 Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzanti-nischen Litteratur, 716; see also Bury, Eastern Roman Empire, 81–83.
189 Cf. F. Fuchs, Die höheren Schulen von Konstantinopel im Mittelalter, 18; Fuchs thought that Bardas’ university was a new institution. The tale that Leo III burned the University of Constantinople, along with its library and professors, is merely a later legend. See L. Bréhier, “Notes sur l’histoire de l’enseignement supérieur à Constantinople,” Byzantion, IV (1929), 13–28; III (1927), 74–75. Fuchs, Die höheren Schulen, 9–10 (bibliography).
190 Symeon Magister, De Mihaele et Theodora, chap, xxxi, 670.
191 Bury, Eastern Roman Empire, III, 445.
192 Ibid., 446.
193 Epistola II; ed. Migne, Patrología Graeca, CXI, 37; see Bury, Eastern Roman Empire, III, 439.
194 Theophanes Continuatus, Historia, Bonn ed., 190; Bury, Eastern Roman Empire, 436–38.
195 Ibid., 438; but cf. F. Fuchs, Die höheren Schulen, 18.
196 O. M. Dalton, Byzantine Art and Archaeology, 14.
197 Diehl, Manuel d’art byzantin (2nd ed., 1925), 379–81; Dalton, East Christian Art, 309.
198 Manuel d’art byzantin (2nd ed., 1925), I, 385–86; Dalton, Byzantine Art and Archaeology, 16; see also Bury, Eastern Roman Empire, 429–34.