The Iconoclasm, in short, was a period in Byzantine history where the use of religious images and icons were strongly opposed by both church figures and state officials within the empire. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. However, the Byzantine Iconoclasm refers to two periods in the history of the Byzantine Empire when the use of religious images or icons was opposed by religious and imperial authorities. Toward the end of the 6th century and in the 7th, icons became the object of an officially encouraged cult, often implying a superstitious belief in their animation. John of Damascus, a Syrian monk living outside Byzantine territory, became a major opponent of iconoclasm through his theological writings. In 787, however, the empress Irene convoked the seventh ecumenical council at Nicaea at which Iconoclasm was condemned and the use of images was reestablished. The first, aptly known as the “First Iconoclasm,” is said to have lasted between AD 726 to 787. In the Byzantine world, Iconoclasm refers to a theological debate involving both the Byzantine church and state. The “First Iconoclasm,” as it is sometimes called, lasted between about 730 CE and 787 CE, during the Isaurian Dynasty. This. The Iconoclasm, in short, was a period in Byzantine history where the use of religious images and icons were strongly opposed by both church figures and state officials within the empire. A depiction of the destruction of a religious image under the Byzantine Iconoclasm, by Chludov Psalter, 9th century CE. The use of icons nevertheless steadily gained in popularity, especially in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. Were Couples Allowed To Legally Divorce During The Byzantine Empire? Omissions? Social and class-based argu… According to Arnold J. Toynbee, for example, it was the prestige of Islamic military successes in the 7th and 8th centuries that motivated Byzantine Christians to adopt the Islamic position of rejecting and destroying idolatrous images. Byzantine Empire - Byzantine Empire - The age of Iconoclasm: 717–867: For more than a century after the accession of Leo III (717–741), a persisting theme in Byzantine history may be found in the attempts made by the emperors, often with wide popular support, to eliminate the veneration of icons, a practice that had earlier played a major part in creating the morale essential to survival. What Were The Key Locations In The Byzantine Empire. Iconoclastic Controversy, a dispute over the use of religious images (icons) in the Byzantine Empire in the 8th and 9th centuries. After coming into power, Emperor Leo V the Armenian began to convene with various religious figures and revived the topic of iconoclasm. What Was The Literacy Rate For Residents Of The Byzantine Empire? Many historians believe that Emperor Leo III was the culmination of this debate, sparking a movement that was known as the Byzantine Iconoclasm. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Most surviving sources concerning the Byzantine Iconoclasm were written by the victors, or the iconodules (people who worship religious images), so it is difficult to obtain an accurate account of events. Social and class-based arguments have been put forward, such as the assertion that iconoclasm created political and economic divisions in Byzantine society, and that it was generally supported by the eastern, poorer, non-Greek peoples of the empire who had to constantly deal with Arab raids. Emperor Leo V instituted a second period of iconoclasm in 814 CE, again possibly motivated by military failures seen as indicators of divine displeasure, but only a few decades later, in 842 CE, icon worship was again reinstated. By the end of its proceedings, the events of the Seventh Ecumenical Council of 787 were overturned and iconoclasm was reinstated in the Byzantine empire. What is Byzantine Iconoclasm? On behalf of the church, the council endorsed an iconoclast position and declared image worship to be blasphemy. While this period of Iconoclasm lasted for over 30 years under the reign of Constantine V and his successor, Leo IV, the council itself on which it was founded was later condemned by both members of the Eastern and Western churches to have been falsely ecumenical with none of the five patriarchs of the Christian church representative in the Council of Hieria (Constantinople lay vacant, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria were under Muslim control, and Rome failed to send a representative).