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Margins and MetropolisAuthority across the Byzantine Empire$
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Judith Herrin

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691153018

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691153018.001.0001

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The Historical Context of Iconoclast Reform

The Historical Context of Iconoclast Reform

(p.206) 10 The Historical Context of Iconoclast Reform
Margins and Metropolis

Judith Herrin

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the historical context of iconoclast reform under the Byzantine Empire. In the early eighth century, the Byzantine Empire teetered on the edge of total collapse. From 695 to 717 internal conflicts threatened to divide the empire, while Muslim forces seemed poised ready to capture Constantinople itself. This troubled period is therefore crucial to an analysis of Byzantium during the first outbreak of iconoclasm. The first reign of Justinian II, the last ruling member of the Heraclian dynasty, ended in a palace coup of 695, which established a usurper, Leontios, as emperor. This event was the first of many similar upheavals that followed with all too regular repetition, making nonsense of the tradition of a Byzantine imperial family. The chapter discusses the efforts of Leo III and his son Constantine to end a political crisis that nearly brought down the Byzantine Empire.

Keywords:   iconoclast reform, Byzantine Empire, Constantinople, Byzantium, iconoclasm, Justinian II, Leontios, Leo III, Constantine

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