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Old December 2nd, 2014, 02:31 PM   #51

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It's a hot topic, to be sure. I'm less convinced that it was influenced by Islamic ideas. For a long time Leo III's background on the borderlands with Islam was taken as indicative of where he got the idea. However, now there are doubts as to Leo's iconoclasm, and a widespread recognition that the Muslims were still producing figural art well into the middle of the eighth century. I think the prestige issue for emperors still makes more sense - a century of defeat is a tough thing for an office that justifies its divine legitimacy through military victory.
Another interesting thing is how close to victory Iconoclasm was, if Constantine V hadn't died prematurely, he might have completely crushed the Iconophiles and Byzantine religious life might've been very different.

Well, with Irene of Athens as new Empress and an ardent Iconophile, the outcome of this fight over icons was essentially decided.

The Iconoclastic Period (711-843)
This is interesting to read, an overview of Iconoclastic period by a professor in a Canadian university.

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Old December 2nd, 2014, 02:35 PM   #52

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Another interesting thing is how close to victory Iconoclasm was, if Constantine V hadn't died prematurely, he might have completely crushed the Iconophiles and Byzantine religious life might've been very different.

Well, with Irene of Athens as new Empress and an ardent Iconophile, the outcome of this fight over icons was essentially decided.
It wasn't, though. Iconoclasm had a second life under Leo V, and seems to only have fallen out of imperial favour due to some backroom political deals made by Theodora after Theophilos' death. But there is a new book on Theophilos that I haven't read yet, so that might have some new perspective in it.

Iconoclasm certainly had a strong appeal in the army, though. They are recorded as preventing Eirene from holding her council in Constantinople, and after the defeat of Nikephoros I soldiers were apparently begging Constantine V to come back to life to lead them to victory. Since he'd been dead for 35 years and iconoclasm had been out for a couple decades, that's a powerfully positive legacy for an emperor who was reviled later.
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Old December 2nd, 2014, 02:45 PM   #53

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Iconoclasm certainly had a strong appeal in the army, though. They are recorded as preventing Eirene from holding her council in Constantinople, and after the defeat of Nikephoros I soldiers were apparently begging Constantine V to come back to life to lead them to victory. Since he'd been dead for 35 years and iconoclasm had been out for a couple decades, that's a powerfully positive legacy for an emperor who was reviled later.
This. I've also read that citizens of Constantinople were praying at Constantine V's tomb even after that, when the empire was in danger. Above all that, Constantine was quite an interesting and complex character.

Just to add something about Iconoclasm, Ostrogorsky had argued that Iconoclasm and the upheavals it brought seriously reduced and undermined Byzantine authority with the Roman Church and Italy in general.
It's been said that Charlemagne viewed Byzantines as heretics because of their opposition to icons (The Pope convened a council and denounced Iconoclasm if I remember correctly), and it was the beginning of the rise of antagonism between Western Europe and the Byzantines.

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Old December 2nd, 2014, 03:01 PM   #54

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Just to add something about Iconoclasm, Ostrogorsky had argued that Iconoclasm and the upheavals it brought seriously reduced and undermined Byzantine authority with the Roman Church and Italy in general.
It's been said that Charlemagne viewed Byzantines as heretics because of their opposition to icons (The Pope convened a council and denounced Iconoclasm if I remember correctly), and it was the beginning of the rise of antagonism between Western Europe and the Byzantines.
I can't really comment on how that is taken today, but I believe T. F. X. Noble wrote a book on the Carolingians and iconoclasm.
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Old December 2nd, 2014, 03:17 PM   #55

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I can't really comment on how that is taken today, but I believe T. F. X. Noble wrote a book on the Carolingians and iconoclasm.
Oh well, it's just from my point of view, thanks for the recommendation... so little time and so many things to do.
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Old December 2nd, 2014, 09:22 PM   #56

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Au contraire, there were philosophical achievements and literary ones, as well as in architecture and art. Scientific progress does not equals progress itself.
What were some philosophical and literary achievements? In period of 500 to 1250 CE?

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In fact, the Dark Ages in Western Europe ended with Charlemagne, in the IX century. Already in the XI century there was significant population boom in Western Europe, people were able to grow more advanced crops and trade also started to grow.

The dark ages were long over by that time.
The enlightenment because of Charlemagne was short lived and disappeared as soon as he died.

Dark ages were over about 1250 CE. Population boom here was not factor, the term Dark Age is said because of lack of intellectual progress and instead decline in it, in time period of 500 CE to 1250 CE.
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Old December 2nd, 2014, 10:20 PM   #57

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What were some philosophical and literary achievements? In period of 500 to 1250 CE?
The Alexiad. The Abbasid court. Psellos. Hildegard of Bingen. Hrosvita. Trdat. Alcuin. Abelard.

What were some philosophical and literary achievements? In period of 300 BC to 500 AD?
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Old December 2nd, 2014, 10:50 PM   #58

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What were some philosophical and literary achievements? In period of 500 to 1250 CE?
Pseudo-Isidore forgery, Donation of Constantine, etc, etc. Anathemas, censorships, imprisonments, exiles, tortures, executions, inquisitions, massacres, most holy crusades, and other glorious achievements of the "church industry".

As the period closes (c.1209 CE) Arnaud-Amaury wrote to [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Innocent_III"]Pope Innocent III[/ame], "Today your Holiness, twenty thousand heretics were put to the sword, regardless of rank, age, or sex"



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Old December 3rd, 2014, 01:23 AM   #59

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One might add that the historian Procopius was born in about 500 AD, and Boethius also just fits in!

The fact is that times change, the ancient world couldn't have dragged on in the same old way forever; if Christianity hadn't established itself in the way that it did, there would have been other changes. The notion that the ancient worl;d would have continued if it had not been for Chritianity is absuerd in so many ways. People are also inclined to underestimate the way in which Christianity, directly and indirectly, acted as a creative force.
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Old December 3rd, 2014, 04:24 AM   #60

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The rise of Christianity was also accompanied by a further weakening of the urban fabric upon which Rome built most of its empire. With the breakdown of traditional urban organization and the flight of the curiales/bouletes, the very social structure that had defined Mediterranean life for a millennium began to come to an end. With the loss of urban identity (which being Roman was part of),
I don't think urban life declined all that drastically until the barbarians overran key cities such as those in Gaul and Spain besides Rome and Carthage.

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This, of course, assumes that the ills of the Roman Empire in the fourth and fifth century are in some way related to a lack of willingness to fight for it.
Military weakness stemming from paucity of citizen recruits was obviously a serious problem especially after 408.

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The reality is that Roman military recruitment had long come from the frontier regions since the days of the Principate, and so "barbarians" from across the Rhine or Danube probably were not all that different and were easily assimilated into Roman military culture, just as Roman military culture absorbed certain barbarian aspects, like the draconarius standard.
There was a key difference between recruitment down to third century and afterwards. Although most troops, notably Danubians, came from frontier areas, they were citizens. And while thousands of barbarians were conscripted they augmented instead of substituted for citizen forces; indeed they tended to be captives. In the fifth century Stilicho's forces were barbarian recruits. Once the "anti-barbarian witch hunt" of 408 led to desertion and loss of new barbarians for regular Roman units, the Empire had to rely on Hun mercenaries and so called federates like the Visigoths in Spain c 416. It just couldn't get enough citizen soldiers from anywhere in the West. By far the strongest forces were barbarians under their own leaders like Geiseric, and that augured disaster for the West.
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